The Urban Inquirer
A blog produced by students at Queens College, CUNY
Inclusionary yet Exclusive

Already far past the civil rights movement, most cities we see should be racially integrated. Instead, we have exclusionary cities and towns with isolated racial “ghettos.” Harlem continues to be a black ghetto, while places such as Westchester and Long Island continue to be affluent dominantly white areas.

Part of the reason of this modern-day segregation is exclusionary zoning. This kind of zoning is created through developing high-income areas with specific requirements for amount of bedrooms and garage space etc., that will often be affordable only to upper middle-class families. Although racial zoning has been declared unconstitutional, exclusionary zoning was upheld in the supreme court since the case Euclid vs Ambler in 1926.

Many states, such as New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland and California, are trying to implement inclusionary zoning policies by building affordable housing units in each town. This allows for low income families to benefit from the better schools in the area and lessen their commute to their jobs. Students in middle-class schools are 22 more times as likely to be high achieving than students in high-poverty neighborhoods. The new policies can help low income families rise in social mobility through the numerous benefits of living in a middle class area.

As a person raised in a New Jersey suburb, I’ve seen these policies implemented. However, the income exclusion is still apparent since most of the minority low income families live in what we call the “downtown.” I realized how the real estate was so carefully planned in my town. The nicer area by the park is surrounded by big homes with sprawling lawns, while the apartment bulidings are located near the main roads, many blocks away from the nicer area. Although the low-income families in the area benefit from the great schools and nearby jobs, the housing patterns still appear to be exclusionary. It is no surprise that most houses being sold in the expanding area of the town are renovated into extravagant homes to keep spreading certain parts of the neighborhood.

Real estate is a business – and the truth is – most of the middle class choose to live in nicer areas, where there won’t be crime and poverty. Low income apartment buildings do devalue surrounding property, which is why these policies are still legal in the first place. To change this exclusionary zoning, it is not enough to add “inclusionary” buildings in a part of each wealthy nighborhood. I beleive you would have to change the mindset of an entire class of people. And this would take a lot more than just policies.


9 Comments to “Inclusionary yet Exclusive”

  1. Imran Khan says:

    I like how you stated, “I beleive you would have to change the mindset of an entire class of people,” but what class are you specifically referring to? Do you feel its the mindset of government officials, real estate developers or the wealthy in general?

  2. Raquel says:

    I meant the upper and middle class. Since it’s a business, real estate developers will follow the trends in buying which goes back to where people choose to live.

  3. Henry Hu says:

    Do you think that exclusionary zoning should be considered as racial exclusion by the government? Because when you look at the statistics, African Americans and Hispanic Americans tend to reside in these exclusionary zones.

  4. Raquel says:

    I beleive it was part of the governments racial policies until the civil rights movement, but afterwards those policies were changed. Now the exclusionary zones are what is left over the years of history, since the ethnic communities grow and stay within their areas. When they are “excluded” nowadays it’s according to wealth since the policies have no more racial exclusions.

    • We’re actually going to be talking about the legacies ongoing racism in housing markets that maintain residential segregation right after the midterm. Its not as cut and dry as you suggest – though unless you’ve gone through the history (as we’ll do in class) you wouldn’t know that so much.

  5. emanuel says:

    Unfortunately, crime has been rising in lower income neighborhoods. I believe some of the rich folks have been suffering as well. If you take Harlem for example, the housing projects are literally across the street from the brand new condominiums. Mixing a bunch of rich families and poor families lead to conflicts in the communities.

  6. I agree with you, thats why i wrote that you would have to change the mindset of an entire class. It would be impossible and the policies don’t end up working because soon enough, those wealthy living in the new condominiums in harlem will move out to a nicer area.The real estate developers will realize the setup was a failure and redline the area. The policies don’t work because the people avoid them so it ends up becoming an “inclusionary” town with two very different areas for different classes.

  7. Musa Almiggabber says:

    This is such a touchy topic because of how many people it continues to impact till today. It’s honestly really sad and disheartening that people are excluded from certain areas due to racial zoning. I know in today’s world it isnt seen or described like that but more accepted because thats “how things are” but its just upsetting that based on your race youre more accepted in certain areas and are forced to live in certain places. One of the many reasons why America has so much work to do to fix its racial issues. We’re all humans at the end of the day so equality should be a no brainer to people. Never understood how people could think otherwise. Nonetheless, very well written and I agree with everything you said!

  8. Sekai Dolin says:

    I understand the message you are trying to convey in this post. If there is more residential desegregation, it will help the poor and middle class get more opportunities that they were unable to get before. Such as a better education, as you mentioned.

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