Safarova, Bara (2019-11). INCREMENTAL CONSTRUCTION AND HOUSE VALUE SEGREGATION: THE CASE OF BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS ON THE UNITED STATES-MEXICO BORDER. Doctoral Dissertation.
Housing segregation by income has increased in the United States since 1970. Government programs based on dispersal that were designed to curb housing segregation have had mixed results and, despite criticism, remain the dominant approach. The underlying assumption of the largest programs is the dispersal of low-income, often ethnic and racial minorities into areas of opportunity. Social justice scholars have questioned the need to disperse the poor. Incremental construction is more common in less commodified housing markets, where it is a symptom of so-called social mobility in -situ, which results in more socioeconomically integrated neighborhoods. The overall question of the dissertation was whether and how does incremental construction contribute to the production of more integrated housing. The question was answered using mixed methods. First, a literature review was conducted to formulate a conceptual framework for measuring house value segregation as a precursor for income segregation. The conceptual framework was applied in Brownsville, Texas to conduct a hypothesis test using exploratory statistical analysis. The results show evidence of a statistically significant positive relationship between rates of incremental construction and house value diversity across 359 subdivisions in Brownsville, Texas. Results of a qualitative study based on interviews with 20 key stakeholders and fieldwork in Brownsville explain further the role played by real estate development, planning policy, architecture discipline, and incrementalism in inscribing house value segregation in the local context. First, the real estate development of housing was found to be segmented by socioeconomic brackets (lower, middle, and upper), and segmentation was found to affect quality of construction, increasing the gap among the spatial segments of housing over time. Second, real estate actors used a mix of design tools and private regulations to inscribe house value segregation. Third, architecture played a support role in marketing and increasing the value of housing and whole subdivisions. Last, inconsistency in evidence was found for the role of incremental construction, suggesting that the role of incrementalism is contingent on the standard of construction and the overall segmentation of the housing market. The dissertation concludes with recommendations for practice and for research.