News at Princeton

Monday, April 24, 2017

Multimedia: Featured

'Insights With Douglas Massey'

Princeton sociologist Douglas Massey examined the impact of building an affordable-housing development in Mount Laurel, N.J., an upscale suburb of Philadelphia. The findings? The development had no negative impact on the surrounding area and brought significant life improvements to residents of the development. Read more.

Video Closed Captions


DOUGLAS MASSEY: I was attracted
to this project here

because it really provided a
model for how to do things.

Not only to desegregate American
society, both in

racial and class terms, not only
to provide decent housing

to people who didn't have access
to it, but also to

provide a program that promotes
the social mobility

of hard working people who
are just looking for

a way to get ahead.

If you give them half a
chance, they'll do it


And so we wrote the book,
Climbing Mount Laurel, to show

people how it could be done, to
provide a model for others,

to use low income house tax
credits, and to encourage

affordable housing developments
like this, not

only in the state of New Jersey
where it's currently

mandated by law, but all
over the United States.

I'm a social scientist and
I like to prove things.

And it's not good enough for me
just to say, oh, well, it

looks good.

Or give a few anecdotes.

I like to show beyond a
shadow of a doubt, and

that's what we did here.

We did a quasi-experimental
analysis to show that opening

up this affordable housing
project in an affluent white

suburb of Philadelphia had no
negative effects on the

surrounding community.

So this shows that, if you do
the development right, and you

build decent housing,
affordable, not fancy, but it

mixes in with the surrounding
suburban ethos and you don't

stigmatize the residents,
everything works out fine.

And the people that move here
get a big boost in their

struggle to move upwards in
the socioeconomic ladder.

They ended up with much higher
rates of employment and much

higher earnings, big drop
in public assistance.

Everybody was much better off.

And that's the reason we wrote
the book, to show that you can

build an affordable housing
project, put it in an affluent

suburbs, attract in low income
people-- low to moderate

income people who are
largely minority,

Latino and African American--

and you can do this without any
disruption of the local

community, with a massive
improvement in the lives of

the people at low cost.

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