Since the sociologist William Julius Wilson examined increasing poverty in black urban neighborhoods in his groundbreaking 1987 book, The Truly Disadvantaged, researchers have avidly studied the effects of geography on low-income city residents. Recent research on a Denver public housing program adds to this body of work by offering conclusions about the benefits of neighborhood economic diversity for low-income black and Latino youth.
George Galster, a professor of urban affairs at Wayne State University, and his co-authors chose the Denver program because it assigns low-income families to a variety of neighborhoods. “Most jurisdictions put public housing in large-scale apartment buildings in disadvantaged neighborhoods,” says Galster. “Denver has some of that, but it’s more likely that families will be assigned to other areas, from wealthy suburbs to everything in between.”