Planning debates over the relative merits and consequences of place-based (e.g., policing, enterprise zones, business improvement districts, neighborhood investment strategies, infrastructure, the gamut of supply-side urban development strategies, downtown redevelopment) versus people-based (e.g., training/education, some housing assistance programs, welfare as we knew it, means-tested transfers generally) are omnipresent, yet so far as I can tell there is no recent account of the overall status of these analyses, or systematic comparative assessments, or what the associated research or policy agendas might be.
As a non-planner, and as a skeptic when it comes to economic analyses of social and cultural phenomena (like this), I find it odd (understandable, but odd) that planners phrase the question in "either/or" form. Both public and private resources are limited, so in any particular case the question may come down to where to put one's money. And there are interesting historical and contemporary questions about priority -- which came first, "people" or "place." (My money is on "place," but that's a debate all its own.) But in the broader sense, and priority aside, it's difficult for me to see how "people-based community development" can be successful without attention to place-based issues, and vice versa.
The "people" in "people-based community development" are never indifferent to where they are located, whether location means block or neighborhood or city or region. (and see Tiebout, Charles.) The chronic anguish over the future of Pittsburgh and each other small city is a signal that place matters terribly. Should the City of Pittsburgh or private real estate developers put development dollars Downtown, or on the North Shore or on the South Side or in Eastside (sorry; that should be East Liberty, of course) or anywhere else? Good planning and economic research doesn't make error of ignoring differential demand for different "places," but posing a "people v. place" hypothesis invites it.