Theses Doctoral

Decision to Reside in Integrated Urban Housing: Determinants and Implications

Jones, Shirley J.

This study of the West Side Urban Renewal Area (WSURA) in New York City examines the motives, preferences, and values of a selected group of householders residing in the WSURA. The findings should benefit social work and other planners in decision-making roles. The study identified a group of householders who had the option of choosing to move into urban integrated housing during a period when many of their counterparts were choosing the suburbs in order to escape urban problems such as deteriorating neighborhoods, the high cost of living, poor schools, a rising crime rate, and integrated neighborhoods. In order to better appreciate the householders' decision-making, the study explored the householders' reasons for moving from their previous homes to the WSURA, their expectations concerning life in the WSURA, some of their living experiences in the area, and their satisfaction with the decision to move into the WSURA.

In order to effectively answer these questions, the variables of age, income, occupation, family cycle, and race and socioeconomic status were analyzed.

The population from which the selected sample was drawn consisted of 774 black and white households located in the Stage I area of the WSURA project. The area was conducive to investigation because it had the physical and socioeconomic characteristics envisioned by the WSURA planners.

A research instrument, the questionnaire, was prepared to conduct the study. A total of 173 householders were interviewed: 82 white and 91 black. The items in the questionnaire were coded, edited, and rechecked. Open-ended questions were coded according to a scheme developed from a content analysis of the first fifty questionnaires. The coded data were then keypunched and processed on an IBM 360 computer.

The findings of the study demonstrated that the variables of age, income, occupation, family cycle, and race and socioeconomic status did define certain preferences and values of the respondents. The WSURA project was fortunate in its location in an area where highly valued amenities such as theaters, shopping facilities, and restaurants were already located. But the respondents were dissatisfied with schools, health and medical services, and police protection.

Differences by race were distinguishable. Less racial tension was perceived in the WSURA than is evident nationally. But the respondents reported a lack of interracial contact on other than a superficial level.

An additional survey of key informants. eight people who had been involved professionally in the WSURA project, revealed that the planners hoped to remove the stigma of urban renewal. They revealed also that because of citizen participation the planners and planning recipients had common areas of agreement. It was found that consideration of economics and social attitudes resulted in tradeoffs by the respondents in terms of their moving into the WSURA project.

Detailed planning is viewed as a significant component of effective housing policy. No recipient group should be taken for granted. The most visible planning flaw is seen as a lack of sensitivity toward the poor. Limited income, poor education, and inequality in opportunity constituted a cycle that is not fully appreciated by planners.

Past methods used by planners should be viewed skeptically. Plans for future housing and neighborhoods should reflect a more realistic view of the needs and preferences of all groups and a greater appreciation of the quality of life.

Geographic Areas


More About This Work

Academic Units
Social Work
Thesis Advisors
Fanshel, David
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 26, 2015