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Publication Date

May 2018


Allison Freeman, Mark McDaniel, and Mat Despard


JPMorgan Chase & Co.

The UNC Center for Community Capital (CCC) partnered with JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPMC) for an in-depth investigation into the intersecting roles of housing and place in linking low- and moderate-income (LMI) families to opportunity in sites in San Francisco and New Orleans. This report, the result of an eighteenth-month long investigation, provides an overview of our assessment of opportunity in New Orleans and San Francisco. We offer findings and recommendations for each site.

In this report, opportunity is understood as “access to good-quality amenities, services, and institutions that might improve and enhance LMI families’ quality of life,” and the goal of the study was to assess both the availability of opportunity within each community – i.e. the spatial distribution of resources – and to uncover what factors enable or inhibit people’s engagement with opportunities that are available to them. The assessment of opportunity looked at the relationship between housing and four specific domains of individual and community well-being: health and healthcare, economic stability, education, and social and community context.

For this eighteen-month long investigation, CCC developed a mixed-methods Opportunity Assessment that took a twofold approach: first, the creation of a data-driven index of place-based opportunity; and second, the use of community-level research to identify the gap between perceived opportunity and actual, realized opportunity. The Area Opportunity Index created for this study helps assess the spatial distribution within communities of critical quantitative indicators of well-being that reflect present and past access to opportunity. Findings from the 52 stakeholder and resident interviews conducted for this study help explain what enables or inhibits people’s full engagement with opportunities that are available to them.

CCC’s work in each city centered on a site that has either undergone or is in the process of undergoing conversion from public to mixed-income housing. The two sites – Columbia Parc in New Orleans and Potrero Terrace and Annex in San Francisco – are very different from one another, both in terms of their stages of development and in terms of the broader area in which they lie. Columbia Parc (formerly the St. Bernard public housing development) is completely renovated, with a waiting list for each type of housing, while Potrero Terrace and Annex only broke ground in 2017, with no renovated housing yet available for its LMI residents. In terms of setting, Columbia Parc sits in the midst of a lower-income neighborhood, where 57% of households are classified as poor, while Potrero Terrace and Annex lies within a well-resourced and wealthy community, where 58% of households are affluent. These disparate settings help shed light on which aspects of access to opportunity are universal – i.e. seem to be present regardless of setting – and which are more a matter of local particularities.

We offer here an overview of our assessment of opportunity in New Orleans and San Francisco, providing findings and recommendations for each site. We close with two important considerations that might be broadly applicable to other communities. This project also has a standalone Executive Summary and a Technical Appendix.

Topics(s): Affordable Homeownership, Economic Mobility, Housing Policy