The research team produced an assessment of the service needs, geographic distribution, and service landscape for high-needs populations in Memphis. This work focused on households receiving MHA housing assistance, particularly those relocated from public housing developments in the most recent three HOPE VI relocations, including Cleaborn Homes (relocations in 2010), Dixie Homes (2008), and Lamar Terrace (2003). From the assessment, the research team produced a memo, which is available as appendix C.
This work included discussions and interviews with a variety of stakeholders, including city and county government officials, the contracting agency providing Community Supportive Services to HOPE VI relocatees in Memphis (Memphis HOPE), non-profit leaders, local service funders, and local researchers, as well the head of the HUD field office and members of the Memphis Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) team.
The interviews covered a range of topics, including details of the policy, planning, and service provision landscape in Memphis, new and long-standing challenges in serving high-needs populations, coordination between service providers and other stakeholders, and current and upcoming programs and initiatives. In each interview, the research team also discussed possibilities for the technical assistance that the team might provide for local stakeholders.
The research team also obtained household- and client-level administrative data on public housing residents relocated as a result of MHA HOPE VI initiatives. We received data from two sources: Urban Strategies, which administers the Memphis HOPE program that provides case management and supportive services to HOPE VI relocatees, and the HUD field office in Memphis. The data from Urban Strategies pertain to households that receive services from Memphis HOPE and were relocated from Cleaborn Homes, Dixie Homes, and Lamar Terrace; data include current (or last known relocation) and former locations, housing assistance use, service referral history, and demographics. The HUD field office provided an extract from the Public Housing Information Center database, which includes information on all households currently receiving housing assistance through MHA housing voucher programs. We used these two data sources to analyze the current and former locations and concentrations (or dispersion) of housing assistance users in Memphis, as well as to compile information about likely service needs based on referral records and demographics.
These data showed that HOPE VI relocatee households have particularly low incomes (in line with their need and eligibility for public housing at the time of relocation), with a median monthly income of just $304 per household. About one-quarter of heads of household receive TANF (25.5 percent) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) (27.7 percent). Virtually all relocatee heads of household were African American, and most were female.
The research team found that relocatee households continue to live in high-poverty areas after relocation. A large majority of HOPE VI relocatee households (68.9 percent) use HCVs. A small portion—just 9.3 percent—live in Foote Homes (the last remaining family public housing development in Memphis), and a slightly larger portion live in public housing developments for the elderly and disabled (11.3 percent). Under 4 percent (3.8 percent) live in new HOPE VI mixed income developments. Many have relocated a substantial distance to other neighborhoods within Memphis. Relocatee households that transitioned onto HCVs moved in a similar dispersal to all voucher-holding households. (See appendix B for density maps of relocatee households, voucher-holding households, and voucher-holding relocatee households). MHA's traditional public housing developments were located centrally, near downtown; in stakeholder interviews, respondents reported that most former residents have relocated primarily to the large communities of Hickory Hill (southeast), Frayser (north), and Raleigh (northeast), all miles from the city center.
Our spatial analysis confirms this assessment. Memphis households receiving MHA assistance are located throughout the city, although the households receiving assistance tend to be clustered in areas with high poverty rates and high percentages of African American residents. Households relocated from Lamar Terrace, Dixie Homes, and Cleaborn Homes are more highly concentrated in their former neighborhoods than MHA voucher holders overall. However, while many have stayed near their original public housing location, others have moved to neighborhoods across the city, following similar patterns of dispersion to the overall population of voucher-assisted households.
The Memphis HOPE administrative data also revealed patterns of referrals for services. Overall, 40 percent of all relocatees have been referred to services more than once, nearly 28 percent only once, and 32 percent have never been referred. The highest share of all relocatees (for whom data are available) were referred at one point to employment services, though this number is still relatively low. This low rate of referral likely reflects factors such as service availability, appropriateness, and high caseloads rather than need, which the income data, discussions with stakeholders, and resident focus groups all suggest is great. Approximately 16 percent of relocatees for whom referral data are available were referred to employment services, 11 percent to child care, 9 percent to education, 8 percent to material resources (e.g., food and clothing supply), 5 percent to youth services, 3 percent to health, and 1 percent to financial literacy.