“That crowd up back”: An unintended outcome – Stigmatization

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An unintended outcome of attempts to provide affordable housing is the social stigmatization experienced by the residents of public housing. Stigma long outlasts the buildings themselves. The image that was placed on Ebsary Estate has carried through to all public housing developments today.

Residents comment that they live in public housing because it is what they can afford, they do not live there by choice. They note that a reputation created a generation ago by some individuals is still imposed on all residents today. As a consequence a public housing address on a job application is definitely not an asset, states a job-seeker. A high school student declares that the experience of stigmatization and exclusion at school is guaranteed. It is the look that people give you when you tell them that you live in “housing” comments a resident.

A poverty of riches engenders a poverty of experience, a poverty of experience engenders a poverty of opportunity. Within families the cycle repeats through the generations and stigma is recreated in each new effort to provide low income housing.

The contributions to their neighbourhoods by residents of public housing demonstrate their capacities and willingness to improve their communities. It reflects a desire for personal transformation and community building that belies the negative reputation.

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