Framing the Urban: Struggles Over HOPE VI and New Urbanism in a Historic City
Elliott, James R.; Gotham, Kevin Fox; Milligan, Melinda J.
Recent debate over the federal HOPE VI program has focused primarily on whether local applications have met administrative pledges to provide adequate affordable housing to displaced residents of newly demolished public‐housing developments. In this research we take a different direction, examining local processes of political mobilization and strategic framing around a specific type of HOPE VI redevelopment—one that includes construction of a big‐box superstore as part of proposed urban renewal. We argue that the HOPE VI program's formal alignment with New Urbanism created a political opportunity for competing actors to adopt and espouse selective new urbanist themes and imagery to construct and advance divergent visions of what urban space ought to be. Through these framing strategies and struggles, the developer, displaced residents, and opposition groups produced “the City” as a rhetorical object that each then used to advocate specific redevelopment proposals while de‐legitimating competing claims. In this way, the HOPE VI program constitutes more than a new federal housing policy; it offers a new vocabulary for framing and mobilizing collective action in contemporary urban centers.