Segregated in the City

As more and more people move to the cities, the prevalence of economic and racial segregation becomes more and more apparent.

"Increasingly cosmopolitan metropolises on every continent live under the specter of global tensions flaring up on their streets rather than on some distant battlefield. Even though this climate of fear hasn't stopped the inexorable path of urbanization, it has made growth patterns more segregated. Modern urban cityscapes better reflect Orval Faubus's vision for the world than Martin Luther King's. When Lyndon Johnson declared segregation 'forbidden' in the halcyon sixties, I doubt he or anyone else envisioned the racial and economic fault lines that divide cities four decades later. Segregation as a legal institution vanished in most places, but it's alive and well as a market phenomenon."

"A recent article by Peer Smets and Ton Salman in Urban Studies argues that 'segregation is indeed on the rise, its effects are becoming gloomier and there is ample reason for concern.' Urban development, once the domain of the state, is increasingly left to the private sector where market forces dictate catering to the upper classes. This leaves large segments of society sequestered in shabbier districts with less access to public or private services. Shrinking and out-of-fashion welfare states are unable to address the growing gap between rich and poor in most cities. Nor are they a match for the needs of the oncoming migration waves into cities worldwide."

Full Story: One World, Segregated



Sadly So True

Sadly this story rings all too true. The hyper-segregation that Massey and Denton described in their classic tome "American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Underclass" is intensifying even though we may be on the verge of electing the first U.S. President of multi-racial heritage.

The planning profession continues to be complicit in advancing this segregation, in part by its silence in the face of misuse of Community Development Block Grants to advance exclusionary funding and other exclusionary practices. The explicit purpose of CDBG funds has always been to foster racial and economic integration. Yet this purpose has been ignored by every Secretary of HUD in the past 25 years.

You can't imagine the difficulty I had getting APA/AICP to include racial integration in housing as one of the organization's goals. I'm amazed it has remained as a goal since my last term as AICP President ended in 2005.

If you'd like to learn how to achieve stable, racially-integrated communities, download a free copy of "Ending American Apartheid" from where you can also download the "Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice for the City of Naperville, Illinois" which explains in some detail -- complete with full citations -- the purpose of the Housing & Community Development Act that funds the CDBG program (see chapter 1).

Daniel Lauber, AICP
AICP President 2003-2005, 1992-1994
APA President 1985-1986

not one to talk the talk . . .

I put my money where my mouth was and moved to a very diverse neighborhood - ethnically and economically. What I've discovered along the way is that my asian neighbors are eager to move to the suburbs because they consider it to be nicer and a more normal, more american way of living. My african-american neighbors aren't thrilled about having asian or latino neighbors and don't seem too pleased about having white neighbors either. A good portion of them also have their eyes on the suburbs, and you don't hear them talking about moving to towns known as white enclaves but by their very nature are still majority white. Keep in mind that this is a neighborhood (and city) where home ownership exceeds the national average and it's not slanted towards one ethnic group or the other.

To me it smacks of paternalistic and patronizing, white-liberal guilt to assume that people of color just can't wait until whitey swoops in to integrate them. It's usually written by the same intellectuals who choose not to live in the neighborhoods they're trying to save from people like them, which creates these pockets of hyper-affluence surrounded by poverty, which puts more and more pressure on the fringes of these of the neighborhoods, thereby making the forces of rapid and total redevelopment inevitable.

We had a good integration plan. It worked on an economic level. Unfortunately it turned into the current mortgage crisis. In the future we should be able to help people who don't have a lot of money to get home financing with low and fixed interest rates without approving them for mortgages 50% larger than what they can afford.

The rich will always live in their semi-private enclaves and until whites are under-represented in the elite they'll continue to be the face of that group and of those neighborhoods. I don't think most people who read this have what it takes to see that sort of exclusivity comes to an end. The best bet, then, is to hope for more middle-class integration. That's something I see happening as upwardly mobile black families continue to move to the suburbs in large numbers.

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