Date of Award

August 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Urban Studies

First Advisor

Joel Rast

Committee Members

Anne Bonds, Marcus Britton


Choice Neighborhood, Citizen Planning, Participatory planning, public housing


ABSTRACTIn September of 2016, the City of Milwaukee won a grant from HUD to designate Westlawn Housing as a Choice Neighborhood Initiative (CNI) redevelopment project. This designation came with a $30,000,000.00 grant to rebuild the Westlawn public housing project on the City’s far northwest side.

The focus of this research was to examine the citizen participation planning process for the implementation of the Choice Neighborhood Initiative. The two goals of this research were to determine if the participation was authentic. Furthermore. to examine if the relationship between the citizens and the existing power structure changed to that of deferring critical decision making to the citizens impacted by CNI.

Arnstein’s planning theory: A Ladder of Citizen Participation was the benchmark used for my qualitative research. Participants in the CNI planning process were interviewed and participant observation was used to draw my conclusions. The data collected showed that the participation did not meet Arnstein’s measurement of authentic citizen participation and nor was there a transfer of power from HACM and the City of Milwaukee to the citizens.