Document Type

Conference Proceeding


This qualitative study investigates if, and how, both current and middle-class prospective Camden (NJ) residents’ housing decisions are impacted by increased school choice through Camden’s newly state-imposed Renaissance schools. Recent research suggests greater school choice options can attract and anchor middle-class families within larger, more cosmopolitan cities like New York, San Francisco, Atlanta, and Philadelphia. Here, with Camden’s smaller, post-industrial urban identity, study findings suggest participants' decision to live in Camden is largely unaffected by the offering of more choice school options. Current residents reported choosing to remain in Camden due to the city’s affordability and emotional connections to the city. Middle-income prospective residents indicated their decision to move to Camden is impacted by broader quality of life considerations including safety and poverty, and communicated negative perceptions of Camden’s newer choice schools. This study highlights the complexity and nuance in the common understanding of urban residential decisions and school choice, particularly within smaller, non-cosmopolitan urban localities.