Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Urban & Regional Planning


Urban and Regional Planning

First Advisor

Michela Zonta


The goal of this thesis is to identify strategies that promote resident empowerment, involvement and cooperation in housing co-operatives that can be applied to mixed-income developments in order to bridge social capital. Numerous American policy makers, housing professionals and planners support the development of mixed-income housing to address the social and economic isolation of low-income, urban citizens living in public housing. Social capital, or social relationships developed from social networks, is an anticipated result of physically integrating individuals of varying income levels in the same housing environment. Despite efforts for integration, numerous studies have found that limited interaction occurs across class in many mixed-income housing developments, which hinders the development of social capital. Some literature points to empowerment, involvement and cooperation as methods of helping bridge social capital in mixed-income housing. Bridging social capital refers to building relationships among people who are demographically dissimilar to one another, such as in age, race or socioeconomic status. In an effort to learn how to bridge social capital through empowerment, involvement and cooperation, the housing co-operative model is analyzed. This research analyses six housing co-operative case studies. The data collected is from websites, published documents, newsletters and other literary sources provided by the co-ops and informal telephone conversations with co-op management staff. The findings indicate that housing management plays a vital role in promoting empowerment, involvement and cooperation. Recommendations include mixed-income housing management encouraging residents to develop and contribute personal skills to accomplish housing goals; housing management soliciting ideas from residents regarding projects or activities that they desire to be involved in; and housing management facilitating group tasks where residents can collectively achieve a goal such as creating a community garden or creating a mural that reflects various cultures or values of residents.


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Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

May 2012