Monday, August 7, 2017

How policies like economic zoning are part of the shameful history of government-sponsored racial segregation

See The Walls We Won’t Tear Down by RICHARD D. KAHLENBERG in The NY Times. He is a senior fellow at the Century Foundation, is the author of “All Together Now: Creating Middle-Class Schools through Public School Choice” and a new report, “An Economic Fair Housing Act.”
"ONE hundred years ago, in a major advance for human dignity, the Supreme Court struck down a racial zoning law in Louisville, Ky., that prohibited nonwhites from moving into homes in majority-white areas.

Laws like these, which existed in numerous cities at the time, are part of a larger, shameful history of government-sponsored racial segregation."

"as whites adopted biased policies like economic zoning that banned apartment buildings in areas designated for single-family homes, often adding minimum lot size requirements to boot. Because African-Americans were disproportionately low-income, economic zoning was in effect exclusionary"

"“Such economic zoning was rare in the United States before World War I,” Richard Rothstein of the Economic Policy Institute notes in his new book, “The Color of Law,” “but the Buchanan decision provoked urgent interest in zoning as a way to circumvent the ruling,” a ploy that would be used for decades. For example, as Mr. Rothstein notes, in 1953, shortly after about 250 African-Americans were transferred to work in a nearby Ford auto plant, the town of Milpitas, Calif., adopted a policy allowing the city council to ban apartments."

"the Supreme Court in 1926, the justices declared that excluding apartment buildings was constitutional. In language laden with class bias, the court reasoned that an apartment house can be “a mere parasite, constructed in order to take advantage of open spaces and attractive surroundings created by the residential character of the district.”"

"But in recent decades, as Robert D. Putnam, a political scientist at Harvard, notes in his book Our Kids,” “while race-based segregation has been slowly declining, class-based segregation has been increasing.” In fact, Professor Putnam says, “a kind of incipient class apartheid” has been sweeping across the country."

"it is also the result of an expansion of exclusionary zoning"

"“a change in permitted zoning from the most restrictive to the least would close 50 percent of the observed gap between the most unequal metropolitan area and the least, in terms of neighborhood inequality.”"

"African-Americans and Hispanics remain much more likely to live in concentrated poverty than whites, but since 2000, there has been a 145 percent increase among non-Hispanic whites living in high-poverty neighborhoods."

"disadvantaged students attending good local schools cut the math achievement gap with their middle-class peers in half between 2001 and 2007"

"Economists across the political spectrum agree that current exclusionary policies create an artificial scarcity of housing, driving up prices beyond what the market would naturally dictate."

"Research finds that racial diversity lowers residential property values. Therefore, exclusionary zoning also unfairly increases the property values in white neighborhoods by reducing the number of minority residents.

The flip side of the equation is that modest drops in property values to genuine market levels will be a boon to young and minority purchasers, as the elimination of unfair government restrictions makes housing more affordable."

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