Episode 106: Separate and Unequal
How much can, and should, the government do to right past wrongs when it comes to housing and segregation?
There’s something strange happening, or rather, not happening, in cities across the country. In Chicago, Baltimore, DC, and countless others, housing discrimination has been outlawed since 1968, and yet, most neighborhoods are just as segregated as they were 50 years ago, some even more so.
It’s a vexing problem, one with its roots in decades of deliberate government policies: from the subsidized whites-only suburbs of the 1950s to local zoning laws that make it impossible to build apartment buildings where low-income people can afford to live in the kind of neighborhoods where they want to live.
In the past couple of months, two big things have come out of DC that could move the needle. A Supreme Court decision that could change the way we think about racism in housing laws, and new rules from the Department of Housing and Urban Development that threaten to take away federal money if cities keep clustering their poor residents of color in dangerous, isolated neighborhoods.
We think our cities look a certain way because of people’s choices and preferences, but it turns out, the government has had a huge hand in keeping neighborhoods separate and unequal.
This week on DecodeDC, we tackle the question that’s been vexing the country for more than half a century, how much can, and should, the government do to right its past wrongs when it comes to housing and segregation?