Will New Large Social Housing Projects Become ‘Food Deserts’?

grocery storefront with fruit and vegetable display
Small Market photo by Lin Mei is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Greengrocers like this one are common in more affluent neighbourhoods.

For those low and no income residents lucky enough to win a lottery and move into one of the handfuls of subsidized housing, finding food will not be a problem. Grocery chains are attracted to large luxury and middle class developments, and social housing residents of the same complex will doubtless get an easy walk to a well stocked food store.

There are supposed social benefits to mixed income developments, in which government dollars leverage public dollars into a few truly affordable homes within a private development.

But such mixed income projects are yielding a tiny fraction of the low and no income housing needed to stem the tide of a deepening crisis. Alternatives to public private partnerships could fund projects with much larger numbers of homes for people with low or no incomes.

However, even in better designed, energy efficient  social housing highrises, an old problem rears its head — food deserts.

For more on this problem, read this Virginian-Pilot article: Tackling the “food desert” crisis

One solution to the problem that is not mentioned in the above article: integrating lower-rise social housing in more affluent neighbourhoods. Is there any truth to the argument that communities with different income levels are healthier — one that just happens to support Government social housing investment in otherwise private projects? If so, clusters of different-income low- and medium- rises could create the same mixed-income communities in a different way, with the added bonus of neighbourhoods attractive to food stores.