Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Community and Regional Planning


Community and Regional Planning

First Advisor

Jane Rongerude


In recent decades, federal housing policy has attempted to address problems associated with concentrated poverty through programs that promote geographic mobility and the dispersal of low income households. However, while cities such as Chicago are redeveloping public housing communities and dispersing poor households, some Midwestern communities are preemptively passing legislation that would prevent a diaspora of low income migrants from moving to their communities to obtain housing assistance. Specifically, some public housing authorities are creating jurisdictional waiting lists that give preference to applicants residing in their jurisdiction, effectively reducing the ability of out-of-jurisdiction residents to receive housing assistance in their community. Ultimately this preference poses challenges to the concept of mobility, if one community is displacing its low-income residents and the receiving communities are making it more difficult for entry, where are these households able to go?

This study examines four rural/small housing authorities within a single Midwestern state which have adopted jurisdictional preference policies. It poses two questions: 1) What is the relationship, if any, between the adoption of jurisdictional preference policies by housing authorities and the presence of a community perception that there is an influx of low-income migrants from Chicago? And 2) How does this phenomenon fit into the larger context of mobility and dispersal-oriented housing policy? Using interviews with housing authorities and affordable housing organizations as well as content analysis of government documents and newspaper articles, I investigated Narratives of migration related to housing assistance in each community. Key findings reveal that the `Chicago' Narrative, the perception that there is a movement of low-income migrants from Chicago, is present within the communities and organizations and has significantly affected the regulatory and political environment in which they operate. This environment relates to community support, political context, and administrative duties. These factors combined with portability issues and funding shortfalls, have contributed to the adoption of jurisdictional preference policies. Although this can be seen as an effort to give primary preference to jurisdictional residents in a landscape where the poor are allowed ever increasing mobility and choice in residence, it also gives some insight into how the organizations themselves are adapting to the reality of a more mobile cohort of low income households.


Copyright Owner

Jennifer Roberts



File Format


File Size

114 pages