The U.S. is pretty stubborn when it comes to its predilection for segregation. As a nation, we have clung to the myth of the melting pot when in fact the fabric of our communities looks more like a jigsaw puzzle. Most white Americans live in majority-white areas while most Americans of color live in areas that are majority non-white and tend to have lower median incomes.
Housing patterns reinforce economic patterns in a non-virtuous cycle of opportunity breeding opportunity, and the opposite. If we want to create cities of opportunity for all, we must start with fostering integrated neighborhoods. So far, we are falling down on the job big-time. Between 2000 and 2013, the number of U.S. residents living in high-poverty areas nearly doubled, to 13.8 million from 7.2 million. Meanwhile, affordable housing in mixed-income or affluent neighborhoods is scarcer by the day, and more of us are spending too much of our income to keep a roof overhead.
All of this points to a need for cities to get serious about new approaches to community development and housing. With this in mind, our latest ebook, “Solving Segregation,” contains seven articles that together offer a compelling portrait of an urban nation slowly — finally— taking steps to dismantle the systems that have, for too long, kept us remaking our jigsaw puzzle of separate and unequal.
Next City is a nonprofit with a mission to inspire change in cities. We are supported by readers like you. When you donate to Next City, you become a member — one in a growing network of urban advocates committed to creating more equitable, sustainable and inclusive cities. Ebooks like “Solving Segregation” are one perk of becoming a member of Next City. Visit our membership page to learn more, or if you are already a member, log in and download “Solving Segregation” today.
Ariella Cohen is Next City’s editor-in-chief.