Date of Award

Summer 8-2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Adia Harvey Wingfield

Second Advisor

Griff Tester

Third Advisor

Deirdre Oakley


The Atlanta Housing Authority’s decision to turn exclusively to Housing Choice vouchers to house its tenants has had significant consequences for the geographic and social landscape of the city. Policymakers largely advocate for relocation of public housing residents to private-market housing in mixed-income neighborhoods with the proposed benefit of interaction with middle-class neighbors that will facilitate improvements in residents’ lives. Prior research suggests that meaningful interaction between voucher holders and middle-class neighbors is unlikely. Through in-depth interviews (N=20) this study explores the relationships relocated residents have with their neighbors and strategies to deal with exclusionary boundary work. Results confirm that relocaters had little interaction with higher-income neighbors and reveal that relocaters use destigmatizing strategies, specifically employing the strategy of staying to self. Staying to self is described as destigmatizing boundary work, a concept introduced to capture relocaters’ neighboring strategy in response to general stereotypes of public housing residents.