The Fair Housing Act turned 50 last year, and the community of housing scholars and activists continue to reflect on the progress not made since segregation because officially illegal.

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development recently held a symposium on the 50th anniversary of the FHA. You can read all of the papers here.

One of the papers is truly radical, and therefore very exciting: Racially Concentrated Areas of Affluence: A Preliminary Investigation by Edward G. Goetz, Anthony Damiano, Rashad A. Williams.

The orientation of much recent housing policy … has been to deconcentrate the poor and desegregate people of color, either by facilitating or forcing their movement out of the neighborhoods in which they predominate, or by redevelopment schemes aimed at introducing more upscale housing and higher income residents (Goetz, 2003).

By studying “Racially Concentrated Areas of Affluence” (RCAA), instead of continuing the mainstream academic and policy focus on “Racially Concentrated Areas of Poverty” (RCAP), the authors are prompting us to ask, why are we allowing the affluent white people to concentrate themselves? Why doesn’t public policy “facilitate or force” their movement out of the neighborhoods in which they predominate? Why does the public facilitate – through public policies like zoning and local control over land use – the isolation of affluent whites?

Concern about racially concentrated areas of affluence as an expression of problematic separatism is largely absent from our national housing policy agenda and the public imagination more broadly. The continued elision of White neighborhoods of concentrated affluence and social power within normative inquiry reinforces the decades-old tendency to problematize low-income communities of color, while at the same time sparing White neighborhoods and the advantages they embody from examination of any kind.

This paper begins to fill this gap in scholarship and help end public support for policies that enable affluent whites to isolate themselves and hoard opportunity.


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