HOPE VI is a competitively funded, public housing redevelopment program with several competing goals. First, it seeks to revitalize deteriorated inner city communities. Second, the program attempts to transform dense, high-rise public housing that has housed the lowest income tenants into developments that are more integrated with surrounding communities in terms of architecture, economics, and aesthetics. Third, the program aspires to provide public housing residents opportunities for social and economic mobility through improvements in physical design and program offerings. The HOPE VI design encompasses demolishing existing "distressed" public housing developments, rebuilding these developments with fewer public housing units, and housing the remaining former tenants of the rebuilt developments elsewhere—either in other public housing developments or through Section 8 vouchers.
This Article analyzes the implications of the HOPE VI program for the future course of housing policy by incorporating theories of community economic development and theories of localism. It demonstrates that the possibilities raised by a program like HOPE VI encourage a more expansive, postmodern view of housing and economic development policy. However, the actual design and implementation of the program fall short in several significant areas. The author concludes by demonstrating how HOPE VI might be reimagined as a program designed to promote the construction of smaller public housing developments across a metropolitan area instead of concentrated redevelopment at one site.