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Holding on to HOPE: Assessing Redevelopment of Boston’s Orchard Park Public Housing Project

Social Housing and Urban Renewal

ISBN: 978-1-78714-125-4, eISBN: 978-1-78714-124-7

Publication date: 7 August 2017



This chapter addresses the related questions of how to assess housing redevelopment and what constitutes a successful redevelopment project, based on the HOPE VI transformation of Boston’s Orchard Park from one of the city’s most notorious, crime-ridden public housing projects into a mixed-income community that remained overwhelmingly composed of low-income residents.


The analysis is based on a unique set of interviews with a sample of residents before and after housing redevelopment occurred. In addition, we draw upon interviews with housing authority staff, official agency file documents, and archival materials.


We find increased residential satisfaction after redevelopment but lingering concerns about safety and security despite marked declines in crime. Although the redevelopment process displaced some households, residents attributed improvements in living conditions to changes in tenant composition prompted by the housing transformation.

Social implications

The results suggest an alternative model of public housing redevelopment that accommodates a majority of poor, subsidized households with some displacement. Still, loss of housing units, tenant selection, and social problems complicate notions of successful redevelopment.


This chapter contributes to the literature by showing how some low-income families may benefit from housing displacement induced by the redevelopment process. We analyze an overlooked but frequently implemented approach to housing redevelopment under the HOPE VI program to keep the majority of redeveloped units for low-income residents. It is the only study of which we are aware that has collected public housing resident opinions both before and after HOPE VI redevelopment occurred.




The authors would like to acknowledge the assistance of Carla Morelli Francazio and Kim Alleyne who facilitated interviews with residents of Orchard Park/Orchard Gardens.


Shamsuddin, S. and Vale, L.J. (2017), "Holding on to HOPE: Assessing Redevelopment of Boston’s Orchard Park Public Housing Project", Watt, P. and Smets, P. (Ed.) Social Housing and Urban Renewal, Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 37-68.



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