Capital and conscience: poverty management and the financialization of good intentions in the San Francisco Bay Area
Social impact investing differentiates itself from traditional investing by claiming to create public social benefits alongside private profits. Globally, municipal governments are increasingly looking to this model to fund urban social services and poverty management. Through a case study of social impact investing in affordable housing in the San Francisco Bay Area, I deconstruct the financial and ideological underpinnings of this model to understand how private profits are drawn from local geographies of impoverishment. Analyzing social impact investing as a poverty politics reveals how it places preexisting, state-subsidized systems of poverty management into social impact investing portfolios, dividing impoverished spaces into new hierarchies of deservingness by incorporating private investors’ visions of what will help low-income tenants. But these processes also fail to subsume social life within housing financed in this manner, as tenant practices subverting those idealized by the state and investors persist alongside the generation of private profits.
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