Housing News Roundup: October 22, 2015
Bipartisan Interest in Policies Built on Chetty's Neighborhood Mobility Research
Economist Raj Chetty’s research on economic mobility has drawn the attention of the White House as well as top-tier Democrat and Republican presidential candidates, including Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush. The research made waves with its assertion that a child’s chances of climbing the income ladder are connected with their neighborhood’s schools, family structures, and both racial and economic diversity. “Chetty’s work challenges preconceived notions on both sides,” according to Avik Roy of the Manhattan Institute. While political leaders across party lines are interested in the work, Chetty notes that “Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton focused on different parts of the presentation [on social mobility]. But they were asking the right questions and trying to figure out what works as opposed to having strong preconceptions.” [To learn more about Chetty’s research in the context of other work on the importance of neighborhoods, see Neighborhoods Matter.]
Source: Wall Street Journal
Opinion: "Poor Doors" Are Valuable Affordable Housing
A mixed-income development in New York City set off controversy last year over whether developers should be able to create affordable units adjacent to—rather than integrated into—market-rate developments. The concept of separating out the lower-income residents made many uncomfortable, reminding them of the Jim Crow era. In response, Mayor Bill de Blasio has drafted legislation to ban the practice. Author Rick Jacobus contends that locating affordable housing in opportunity neighborhoods is more important than completely integrating market-rate and affordable units. Jacobus argues that fighting against poor doors will isolate families in distant locations with little opportunity, and that advocates for affordability need to reevaluate their priorities.
Neighborhood Integration Has Improved Dramatically
According to research, segregation in the United States has drastically declined in recent decades. A key component of this decline has been the dismantling of discrimination in housing practices, according to University of Chicago Law School professor Nicholas O. Stephanopoulos. He says that the decrease in residential segregation between 1970 and 2010 has been “one of the most important sociological developments of the last half-century.” However, he argues that segregation is still strong in many large urban areas like Chicago, Detroit, New York City, and Philadelphia, and in many places, racial discrimination has been replaced by economic discrimination. Given the racial tension in recent months, author Brentin Mock explores the status of race relations today, with specific consideration for whether integration has translated into improved political representation for African Americans.
New Calculator Shows The Feasibility of Affordable Housing
A new tool from Cornerstone Partnership, called “the Inclusionary Calculator,” quickly simulates the financial return of market-rate and mixed-income developments. The tool is able to account for affordable housing, as required by inclusionary zoning ordinances, and shows that in most cases developers can afford to create a certain amount of affordable housing. George W. McCarthy, president of the Lincoln Land Institute, says, “In almost every case, we could target a 10 percent profit for the developer and still leave at least 12 to 15 percent of the units to be affordable.”
Seattle School Pursues Racial Integration in Classrooms
Seattle’s racially diverse Leschi Elementary School recently moved to blend its classrooms, which, based on programming, had slowly become segregated along racial lines. A coalition of activists, teachers, concerned parents, and the principal have succeeded in modifying Leschi’s special all-day Montessori program, which will go a long way toward integrating students. The Montessori program attracted white families into the traditionally African American school, but ultimately led to a racial divide; predominantly white students attended Montessori classrooms and minority students attended traditional classrooms. As one parent explains, “I want my kids to have access to all different cultures and to be with kids from different backgrounds. That’s the real world.” All students will now spend half of their day in Montessori classrooms and the remainder in traditional classrooms, due to the high cost of offering exclusively Montessori programming. The changes have received mixed reviews.
Source: The Seattle Times