Laissez Fairness and the Housing Market

My article this week is about a region of Maryland where the government set a few rules and let private developers go crazy. Most notably, the rules they set affected race and income, which are issue that never seem to go away:

Consider the numbers: there were fewer slaves in 1860 America than black people living in cities with poverty rates above 40 percent in 1990. That kind of census statistic seems almost impossible to believe, unless you’ve seen several generations grow up in one of these poor neighborhoods. Henry Richmond, the founder of 1000 Friends of Oregon, said it best: the fact that poor black neighborhoods still exist means that around 1970 we began another 100 year fight against discrimination. But this fight’s harder to see, since it’s not as explicit as a Jim Crow-style law. Instead, it involves zoning, planning, and housing regulations that have made the suburbs more attractive to developers than the city, thus dropping the price of slum housing to cheap levels. This means that if you moved to the city because it was affordable, your investment never paid off. Your families were working poor fifty years ago and they’re working poor today.

Interested? Read the rest here.