Constructing the Social Impact Statement to Measure the Full Cost to Public Housing Tenants of Urban Renewal
Highlighting the displacement and loss of community created by urban renewal in the District of Columbia neighborhood of Barry Farm, this chapter summarizes the work of the National Commission on Urban Problems and the consequences of the Uniform Relocation Assistance Act (42 USC 4601), the HOPE VI plan, the Gautreaux program, and the Moving to Opportunity program. As a means of responding to the needs of residents facing redevelopment-generated upheaval, the author proposes the use of social impact statements (SIS), the urban renewal equivalent of an environmental impact statement. These statements would evaluate how all residents measure their investment in their community, capturing values that transcend the supposed fair market value of a home. The first of those values is substantive, an articulation of the tangible and intangible elements of losing “place attachment” (the emotional bonds built over time with physical and social features of a locale) and “place dependence” (a more concrete assessment of how a place fulfills a range of needs). The second of those values involves process: residents would participate in the articulation of loss, but would also receive standing to petition for suspension of the development process until they are relocated in a way that assures that their “comparable replacement dwellings” truly compensate for the physical, social, and psychological dislocation which the social impact statement illuminates. These measurements have great potential to provide both a practical tool to broaden meaningful involvement in redevelopment and a new measure for just compensation in eminent domain. The author argues that the construction and adoption of social impact statements could be incorporated into existing requirements for land use developments in general, and public housing redevelopment in particular, and would inject rigor into the assumptions upon which dislocations of poor people are based.
Barry Farm, Urban renewal, Social impact statements, Eminent domain, Comparable replacement dwellings, National Commission on Urban Problems, Uniform Relocation Assistance Act, HOPE VI, Gautreaux program, Moving to Opportunity program
Bennett, Susan. “Constructing the Social Impact Statement to Measure the Full Cost to Public Housing Tenants of Urban Renewal.” In Affordable Housing and Public-Private Partnerships, edited by Nestor M. Davidson and Robin Paul Malloy, 129-167. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing, 2009.