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Housing programs concentrate poverty in a few metro locations, report finds

MinnPost photo
Sienna Green Phase II brought 50 affordable, two and three-bedroom apartments for families to Roseville.

The infamous gaps that separate the Twin Cities’ relatively affluent white population from its persistently poor populations of color — gaps that are wider here than nearly any place in the nation — continue to embarrass and mystify this proudly progressive region. But they are no mystery to Myron Orfield.

In a combustible report released today, Orfield and his colleagues at the University of Minnesota Law School’s Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity purport to show how state and metro housing authorities have used — or perhaps misused — federal housing money to systematically concentrate impoverished racial minorities in just a few locations, most of them in the poorest areas of Minneapolis and St. Paul, rather than integrating them into the wider metro region.

Indeed, since the 1980s, the state and region have pursued policies in both housing and education that, according to the report, have corralled impoverished minorities into concentrated geographical settings, settings that, as sociologists have long understood, tend to turn poverty into a culture of its own and make cycles of generational poverty harder and harder to break.

By isolating “the problem,” we’ve widened our racial gaps, Orfield argues. By giving up on metro-wide integration, we are left with the sad consequences of the segregated world we’ve created.

“Our policies and actions have been self-destructive,” he said in an interview on Thursday, arguing that housing has become “more of a segregation perpetuation program than an opportunity program.”

Orfield blames legislative mandates and perverse allocation formulas for funneling the bulk of housing money into already poor, racially segregated areas rather than into whiter suburban districts where subsidized housing could be built at two-thirds the cost and where opportunities for better schools and jobs are greater.

“It’s a paradox,” he said. “Even when white suburbia asks for more affordable housing projects they get turned down, in large part because the formulas are tipped against them.”

Minnesota Housing Commissioner Mary Tingerthal refutes much of Orfield’s critique, saying that he oversimplifies the housing picture. “I’m troubled by his conclusions,” she said Thursday, asserting that Orfield’s report overlooks progress that her agency and the Met Council have made in spreading the money around. “We’ve been focused on the problems that he has identified,” she said.

Orfield’s report, “Reforming Subsidized Housing Policy in the Twin Cities to Cut Costs and Reduce Segregation,” is the latest in a series of studies stretching back to the 1990s in which he, Tom Luce and other colleagues have mapped geographical, racial and economic divides, both here and in other U.S. cities.

Distribution of housing units in central cities and suburbs, 2012

Source: Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity
Subsidized housing units in the Twin Cities metro region are disproportionately located in the central cities.

As in previous reports, Orfield’s numbers and maps tell the tale. While only about 25 percent of the metro population and housing units are located in Minneapolis and St. Paul, about 59 percent of subsidized housing units are squeezed into the poorest areas of those cities, he asserts. Indeed, most of the region’s suburban subsidized housing is clustered near the borders of the central cities while far larger suburban expanses have little or no subsidized housing at all.

affordable housing
Courtesy of the Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity
Subsidized housing units are heavily concentrated in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

The policy impact is keenly felt in nearby public schools, Orfield claims. As recently as the early 1990s, there were almost no sharply segregated schools in the metro region. Now, by Orfield’s count, there are more than 130. For him, the link between subsidized housing location and low-performing schools is clear and direct – and a classic recipe for trapping people into lives of poverty and despair. Only one-sixth of subsidized housing units are located in predominately white areas, where opportunities are greater, the report says. The effect, it says, is to “shut off long-run opportunities to low-income children of color, contributing to the region’s enormous racial gaps in educational performance.”

Perhaps the report’s most explosive assertion is that the state and metro housing agencies have been unfaithful to the spirit — if not the letter — of federal housing laws, most specifically, the Fair Housing Act. “Simply put, federal funding must be used on projects that encourage integration,” the report says. “The region’s current strategies are clearly not meeting this requirement.”

Orfield cites a 2012 Texas case in which a federal court struck down a formula that disproportionately awarded low-income tax credits to minority neighborhoods. The court found a “perpetuation of segregation.”

Minnesota’s policies come close to violating federal law, Orfield contends, and he wouldn’t be surprised to see a court challenge.

Tingerthal disagrees. “We’re confident that our plan does not include those characteristics,” she said, referring to the Texas statute.

For Orfield, the crux of the problem is that, based on their comparatively small populations, segregated areas of the Twin Cities get three times their share of housing dollars. To comply with the law, those dollars should be spread more evenly.

But for Tingerthal, it’s not that simple. Federal guidelines direct local agencies to follow a dual approach, she said. They must allocate money to non-poverty areas as a way of promoting integration, but must also reinvest to stabilize older, low-income areas where transit provides access to schools and jobs. “It’s our job to do both,” she said.

Orfield’s analysis fails to recognize the diversity of housing needs, she added. Most of the region’s suburban investments are in homes for families, she said, while the need in the urban core is for smaller-scale units.

One surprising target for the Orfield report was the affordable housing industry itself. With private banks and the federal government stepping away from general reinvestments in those poor areas, housing advocates have stepped in to fill the void with handsomely paid executives, large staffs and a mission to maximize units. But what masquerades as economic development does little for impoverished communities, the report contends, except to exacerbate the concentration of poverty.

In a case study, the report traces housing money flowing into Minneapolis’ near south side but concludes that, for all its efforts, the district falls far short of economic transformation. “There’s nothing to suggest that driving a larger share of housing money into poor neighborhoods actually improves the prospects of those neighborhoods,” Orfield said. The “scattered-site” approach — small investments scattered throughout the suburbs — shows better results, he said.

Andriana Abariotes, director of Twin Cities Local Initiative Support Corporation, a group that produces affordable housing, said she agreed with 85 percent of Orfield's critique, but said he's “myopic” on the subject of integration and lacks the broader context needed to fully understand the housing problem. Investments in Minneapolis' near south side actually paid off handsomely, she said. “Remember, that was crack alley and the heart of so-called Murderapolis, and now it's a stable community.”

Asked if he considers Minnesota’s strategy a deliberate effort to corral poor minority populations into a few concentrated locations, Orfield said, “It’s less a matter of racism than a comedy of errors.” But he noted that peer metro areas, notably Seattle and Portland, have used housing policies that avoided concentrations of racial poverty and have been better off for it.

As for solutions, the report suggests that Minnesota return to previous policies that emphasize integration. Formulas should be changed in ways that distribute subsidized housing throughout the metro region, it says. Point systems should be reconfigured to give more weight to cost-effective solutions and access to good schools. And all levels of government should adjust their policies to avoid investments that exacerbate concentrations of poverty.

Comments (22)

  1. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/07/2014 - 11:45 am.

    I hate to say it but….

    I’m not sure we have a compelling narrative here. Look: on one hand we have new urbanist’s extolling the virtues of urban (city) living and population density. And then we have an article like this complaining about building low income housing in urban rather than suburban areas?

    I thought the whole idea of population density was to diminish the need for expensive and sprawled infrastructure and resources? I can tell you this, it’s much harder to live in St. Louis Park if you don’t have a car than it is in MPLS. Aren’t we complaining about not putting people with lower incomes and fewer resources out in far flung suburbs where they’d need a car just get hair cut? Isn’t it supposed to be cheaper to live in the city? Why put low income housing out in suburbs where it’s more expensive to live?

    This has nothing to do with having low income housing in my suburban paradise, I have low income apartments and town homes within blocks of my house and I’m not complaining. I’m not opposed to more low income housing, but I am puzzled by this apparent paradox of principles. I think it would be even worse to put housing programs out in Orono for instance not because it brings down the city but I’d hate to be poor and trapped in Orono.

    I think it’s really complex issue. I know there’s nimbism but I’m not sure that’s the whole story or should be.

    • Submitted by Michele Olson on 02/07/2014 - 12:48 pm.

      You make some good points …

      The infrastructure in suburbs is usually not set up for people without cars and I see it getting worse. Down in Apple Valley, they adjusted the bus schedules at the park and ride serving the lower-income apartment buildings when they brought in the express line, without a thought for how people used those buses for grocery runs and work. Work is still accessible, in theory, but it takes much longer, which translates into higher daycare fees, etc.

      So, I agree with you.

      But I also want to suggest that when people of like minds are clumped together in one place, be it from culture, poverty, depression, what comes about is a reflection of the same. Maybe … the reason kids in lower income neighborhoods aren’t succeeding is because they aren’t receiving another affirmative, positive feedback from the people around them. Misery, as they say, loves company. And it perpetuates itself.

    • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 02/07/2014 - 01:36 pm.

      Because this isn’t about income

      It’s about race. Orfield’s attempt at social engineering is not only misguided, it’s counterproductive if the objective is to improve the lot in life for poor people.

      I was born into a large family in the poorest neighborhood in St. Paul. When I was a toddler, after scrimping and saving, my parents were finally able to move UP to the ghetto.

      A few years later, when I was in elementary school, they were able to move out of the ghetto and into a working class neighborhood. By high school they were able to move into a nice middleclass neighborhood (just in time for me to move out on my own, btw).

      The point is, families who are dissatisfied with their crummy neighborhood have an incentive to work hard so some day they can move their family into a nicer neighborhood. It’s all about incentive and reward, something that’s missing from the current way we deal with poor people.

      • Submitted by Michele Olson on 02/07/2014 - 07:38 pm.

        Okay, first of all…

        I commend your parents’ hard work, and I am so glad that things turned out well for your family.

        But while there are some hard neighborhoods here, there are no ghettos. Been all over this metro, haven’t seen one. You want to see a ghetto, try Chicago or NYC.

        I agree with incentive and reward, to a point. There has to be a reward at the end of hard work, there has to be energy left, some time of the day to spend with your kids, a quality of life. There has to be hope.

        It isn’t happening.

      • Submitted by Jon Lord on 02/08/2014 - 08:51 am.

        I just want to know

        what star are you wishing on? What is the incentive for wealthy children to work hard? Is it because they have money and want more? Is that the case? If the case is that the poor will work harder because they are poor then we should make sure no person and no family ever makes more than a certain amount so their children will have the incentive to learn hard work! If the poor will have the incentive to work harder then shouldn’t they be given the first chance for the best jobs? They will work harder at it than a middleclass or wealthy person will correct? No that doesn’t happen. Why not put wealthy and middle class people into poor (and working class?) neighborhoods? I think that’s the key. They then can learn something from each other.

        You kind of start out right. “It’s about race.” Then you are off on a tangent…

  2. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 02/07/2014 - 02:14 pm.

    The map speaks for itself

    Lots of words may well flow around this, and I understand Paul Udstrand’s comment about being poor and trapped in Orono without a car, but the situation he’s describing is symptomatic of just what Orfield is talking about. The map above speaks more powerfully to the result – regardless of the intentions – of much of the urban housing policy hereabouts over the past generation, and the picture it provides to a non-native like me is not at all attractive.

    My mantra when I was a housing commissioner and planning commissioner in another state was pretty straightforward: every development should be mixed-use, and every housing development should be mixed-income. If inclusionary zoning was required to accomplish that goal, then so be it, regardless of the howls of protest from privileged groups in exclusive residential areas. Property values cannot be allowed to supersede all other values in a society that likes to believe it’s egalitarian enough to provide “equal opportunity,” and this is an example of just how hollow that assertion of “equal opportunity” can sometimes be.

    What the map shows is a public policy disaster that apparently has been decades in the making, and which ought to be an embarrassment to the public and private entities that helped create it, and to the individuals whose decisions fostered and perpetuate it.

    While it has not always been so, the Republican Party is the current defender of privilege regionally and nationally, so I would expect not only opposition to independent or DFL attempts to address this shameful situation from people who like to call themselves “conservative,” but that such opposition would include appeals to everything from the Constitution to the American flag to mom and apple pie to Holy Writ. Before those begin, let me just say that, having read my several Bibles multiple times (and my Koran, as well), I have found no evidence therein that a higher home value will somehow increase the chances that someone will be admitted into heaven. In fact, the New Testament suggests something close to the opposite.

  3. Submitted by Victoria Wilson on 02/07/2014 - 02:16 pm.

    real choices are all that matter

    As much as it is fun to speculate how the world would be only if…isn’t it more helpful to look at the choices disadvantaged folks make and their outcomes? If a family has been successful in advancing their child to a higher level of achievement, say graduation from high school or college, than what were the choices that were made to achieve this? Did the family choose to stay in an area of poverty concentration rather than move to a remote suburban location because they felt their support network would be to their benefit? Did the parents’ work situation benefit in any way from public transit? Did the fact that their dwelling was (high cost) new construction or age worthy of the surrounding neighborhood impact their efforts or decisions in any way?

    What are the fruitful economic choices that people make to ameliorate their use of public goods?

    (nice to see Steve Berg back on the page)

  4. Submitted by Rose Teng on 02/07/2014 - 02:29 pm.

    More affordable options needed everywhere

    The first article under “related content” has this headline: “Minneapolis renters face huge affordable-housing shortage” ( Let’s focus on the most important issue here: there simply are not enough affordable housing options out there. This is true in the suburban communities but, as the “related content” article suggests, it is also true in the central cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. In fact, we know that people in Greater Minnesota need more affordable housing as well because this is a statewide issue. What we really need is to invest in the affordable housing infrastructure across the entire state of Minnesota–both rental options and homeownership opportunities. We need our lawmakers to support housing this legislative session and we can make a real effort towards strengthening our communities (urban, suburban, and rural) by investing in bonding for housing at the state legislature this year.

  5. Submitted by Janne Flisrand on 02/07/2014 - 02:44 pm.

    context needed

    I’d be interested in seeing some more context. For example, how about showing
    –the percentage of rental units:housing units
    –the percentage of subsidized units:rental units
    –# school children living in subsidized housing


    This looks like it’s all Mpls/StP, but keep in mind that total housing density is also greater in those neighborhoods, and total population is greater in those cities. I don’t know for sure that it creates a distorted picture, but without the context I suspect that it does.

  6. Submitted by James Hamilton on 02/07/2014 - 05:08 pm.

    Just looking at demographics in St. Paul

    it appears that the study ignores one of the most salient points: white aversion to public schools in districts in which there are significant numbers of non-white students. Let me use St. Paul as an example.

    Roughly 67% of St. Paul residents are white, yet white students account for less than 23% of those enrolled in St. Paul public schools. Using the study’s definition of an integrated school (30-50% non-white), it is literally impossible to integrate every one of St. Paul’s schools. In fact, when one examines school enrollment by race, it’s apparent that segregation reigns throughout the district. Whites are heavily over-represented in 15 of the district’s elementary schools, substantially under-represented in another 25 and equally represented in only a few.

    The numbers for Minneapolis are similar, though not quite as imbalanced. 65% of Minneapolis residents are white, while only 32% of students enrolled in Minneapolis public schools are white.

    Frankly, I fail to see how the allocation of subsidized housing funds can ever have more than a minor impact on this disparity.

  7. Submitted by Joe Musich on 02/07/2014 - 09:33 pm.

    You are given data …

    then you belie it’s existence ! Does not compute. There clearly is some rebuilding of “projects” going on. And with that all the issues that came before. Mixed used please.

  8. Submitted by Pat Paulson on 02/07/2014 - 10:39 pm.

    I don’t want to minimize the importance of affordable housing – I’ve spent much of my life advocating for it and helping people find it. But the affordable housing discussions tend to leave out the issue of income. If people had money there wouldn’t be a need for subsidized housing. We talk about the need for affordable housing as if it’s a given fact that a certain percentage of the population will be always be poor. What issue needs to be addressed first? Economic opportunity, education, housing? Obviously, all are important, and obviously, all are interrelated. Create more opportunity, and the need for subsidized housing declines.

    • Submitted by Victoria Wilson on 02/08/2014 - 09:22 am.

      Pat you make a good point.

      We’ve always focused on solutions in realm of material economics. If there is a need for food than provide groceries. But we’ve neglected solutions in the realm of social economics. I think that this is part of the argument being made by Orfield. By keeping populations in high concentrations of poverty there is little way for them to access networks that could tip them off to a job opening, for instance.

      You can detect the argument in objections to providing early childhood education. In this case education is being treated as a commodity that will enrich the pre-schooler in those years. But the program fails to address who will be sitting by the fourth grader helping with homework, and who will be waiting to hear how the middle schooler did on a test to provide positive reinforcement, and who will be doing college prep with the high schooler leading up to an expectation of higher education.

      Now some will say that people living in high concentration of poverty are doing so because they benefit from the networks in place for them. When the public schools close for five business days in January it leaves all parents scrambling for daycare. Most were dependent on grandpa, auntie, neighbor or someone within their network to help out so they could keep working. In some positions missing a day of work could have cost them their job. So you can imagine how economically vital social networks are.

      It is only in studying consumer choices in the realm of social economics that we can discover some of the interplay between resources and outcomes.

  9. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/08/2014 - 09:02 am.

    I’m still not convinced

    I’m not trying to be dense, but the “map” doesn’t tell me the same story it seems to be telling some others.

    Ray says: “My mantra when I was a housing commissioner and planning commissioner in another state was pretty straightforward: every development should be mixed-use, and every housing development should be mixed-income. ”

    I like the sound of that, but if that means in practice that your building low income housing in Eagan so low income people can commute to their jobs in MPLS I think we have to step back. What is the advantage of having to spend two hours a day on the bus?

    I don’t know, I look at the map and it makes perfect sense to me. I would expect to find low income housing clustered in the cities because that’s where the population is concentrated and that’s also where the jobs are concentrated and the public transit is most developed. The cities are even where most of the bike trails are. If you were in the low income demographic would you want to live to live in Delano? There are no parks, no buses, no jobs. It would take you two hours to bike into MPLS. Most suburbs don’t even have sidewalks. I mean isn’t there some kind of assumption here that suburban live is better than urban life for everyone? Isn’t that a weird assumption in the year 2014?

    I actually live within that big red dot in St. Louis Park. We’ve got one of those Pawlenty inspired affordable housing projects about a mile away on Louisiana Ave. There is NOTHING within walking distance other than a Walgreens. Well, there is a Family Dollar store now. But to get to a grocery store from there you either walk three miles with a cart of some kind or take a bus and transfer and even then you have to carry your groceries 4-5 blocks. I suppose we could build one of Ray’s mixed income projects in the West End but how do you keep affordable housing affordable? Rent control of some kind?

    I see Michele’s point about the clustering of homogeneous groups, and I like the idea of dirversity, but are housing projects the solution? Again, I have no problem with having poor people in my suburb, I’m not wealthy myself by the way. It just seems to me that housing projects that move low income people around have been failing for decades, so maybe the problem isn’t the location of the projects.

    I tend to agree that eliminating incomes that are too low to afford housing ought to be the real objective. We also need to develop transit infrastructure that can move people around regardless of where they live if they don’t want to drive or don’t have a car. We’re also talking about a lot of other things like education disparity and cultural differences.

    • Submitted by Matt Haas on 02/08/2014 - 05:29 pm.

      Just as an aside

      You seem to be locked into an archaic mindset of city=jobs, suburbs=housing and little else. Fact of the matter is the folks using sec 8 aren’t downtown office workers, or even industrial workers, those groups have money for alternative housing. The jobs these folks are qualified for (for better or worse) are located in the suburbs (retail, food service, lawn care etc…) . This is not any indictment of the potential for these folks to move up in the world, it just reflects the reality as it stands. Piling all the poor, less educated, and low skilled labor force in the central cities is pointless, as all it does is make it even harder for those in dire circumstances to escape.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/09/2014 - 11:06 am.

        I see your point Matt

        I think your indictment is a tad off the mark however. While there are jobs in the suburbs, especially service jobs, the fact remains that the burbs have higher percentage of residential development than the cities. In St. Louis Park we’ve actually been replacing commercial property with residential properties for almost two decades now, there is more housing and fewer jobs here now than there was when I grew up in the 70s. I think for the most part you’ll find the same pattern throughout the sprawl.

        Right or wrong the idea of suburbs is you live there and work somewhere else, that hasn’t actually changed as dramatically as you seem to suggest. This why we’re fighting all these transportation battles, so people who live in Chanhassen can get into MPLS. I’m not sure a majority of our service employees in SLP are section 8 dwellers, and I’m not sure they would displace existing employees if there were more such dwellers living in SLP. I doubt a very high percentage of Medtronic workers out in Fridley are section 8.

        I understand it’s a bad idea to concentrate poverty but don’t low income housing projects do that wherever they are built? This brings us back to Ray’s concept of mixed income projects, but how does that actually work?

        I don’t know, I just think kind of weird, we’ve been attacking the sprawl of the suburbs for two decades but now we want to move the poor out there? I’m just saying, are we solving problems or just moving them around? I honestly don’t know.

        • Submitted by Matt Haas on 02/10/2014 - 12:58 am.

          I think you might be surprised

          At who is making what. Pick a big box, those employees, at least those that are single and non-dependant are not making a living wage, I know, I’ve been there. Same for lawn crews, laborers, non wait staff restaurant employees (especially at the chains) the zillion or so fast food workers. I think you miscalculate based on the fact that its easy to overlook so much of the service sector, unless you happen to be employed in it, because it so ubiquitous to life in the burbs. I live in the North Metro, maybe fifteen minutes from downtown Minneapolis, and I can say, anectdotally of course, that maybe 10 to 15 percent of the people I know personally commute to a core city for employment. While its true that not all are working nearby, I commute 15 miles each way for example, its generally to another suburb, or to various job sites. Outside of the white collar world, the central cities really don’t have a lot of importance to daily life, and I venture to guess the majority of the metro population, and 100% of the very poor, don’t exist in that world. I also think this isn’t homogenous geographically of course, certain suburbs attract upper class residents, but as a whole those areas are the minority.

  10. Submitted by Tom Anderson on 02/08/2014 - 06:25 pm.

    Peer areas?

    “But he noted that peer metro areas, notably Seattle and Portland, have used housing policies that avoided concentrations of racial poverty and have been better off for it.”

    Must be all the snow, cold, mosquitoes, Hmong and Somalian residents that make us so much alike. I do agree that the homeless are scattered EVERYWHERE not just in a few areas there.

  11. Submitted by Jon Lord on 02/09/2014 - 07:59 am.

    What if

    Along the greenway and around the Uptown area, where a dozen or more apartment complexes are going up very quickly, why not include a few Section 8 apartments in each of them? Each floor could have one apartment dedicated to a Section 8 family or person. I have my doubts that this will happen since some of those complexes require that a person have a salary above $40,000 in order to rent there but if it did happen that could be at least a partial answer to the problem.

    If I remember correctly that was supposed to be the plan years back, however what seemed to happen was that a large number of dedicated retirement complexes suddenly started converting to section 8? Most of those eventually became section 8 only. That actually reduced the number of affordable retirement communities and concentrated section 8 apartments into single complex communities.

    As more people retire it seems there might be two problems instead of one. Rents for blocks around the greenway and Uptown areas are going up and will continue to go up unless those new complexes can’t be filled at the rents they currently will be asking.

  12. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 02/10/2014 - 06:05 pm.

    The underlying problem

    …is the one Pat Paulson pointed out. Much of the rhetoric around “affordable” housing becomes irrelevant if/when people working full-time jobs are paid well enough to afford decent housing. Inclusionary zoning and deed restrictions are sometimes effective, but struck me years ago as “band-aids,” and still strike me that way. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be used, and I’m very much a fan of inclusionary zoning precisely because it makes financial bigotry more difficult to put into housing practice, but the cure for most of our housing issues involves a combination of reducing subsidies to suburbs while simultaneously pumping up wages.

    Dennis Tester is not entirely incorrect here. Housing discrepancies and discrimination are at least as much about race (or ethnicity if you want to be more formal) as they are about income. I’d be amazed if there weren’t some informal red-lining going on in the Twin Cities real estate community, but of course, it’s pretty easy to cover one’s tracks in that regard, and difficult to actually prove in court that the concentrations of race and poverty that we’re talking about are the result of some conscious policy and business decisions.

    It makes sense to have housing available in reasonable proximity to available jobs, which lends some credence to Paul Udstrand’s comment about the Eagan service worker commuting to downtown. That said, however, I’d argue that having affordable housing fairly close to exclusive areas – not two hours away – makes a lot of sense from a practical standpoint. Real money doesn’t mow its own lawn, clean its own carpets with machinery rented at the grocery store, etc. Those people hire service workers to provide those and other services, and those service positions are really only economically tenable if there’s housing nearby.

    Inclusionary zoning requires – not suggests, requires – developers of a housing project to provide a certain percentage (up to the responsible authorities) of affordable housing units as part of their housing development. In effect, they are required to “include” in their project housing for multiple income levels. That often (not always, but often) means that those buying or renting market-rate units are subsidizing some of their neighbors. Courts have upheld such policies in most states where they’ve been tried.

    I’m not in the market for a new or different home, so I ignore the real estate ads in the ‘Strib and elsewhere, but on the few occasions when an ad has caught my eye, it has *not* been for people of moderate income. Every developer, it seems, is intent on building “luxury” housing, whether it’s rental units in Uptown or McMansions in Minnetrista or condos overlooking the downtown riverfront in either St. Paul or Minneapolis. Nobody is advertising “sensible” housing, or “affordable” housing – it’s all “luxury” housing. Inclusionary zoning would require those developers to include in their project a percentage of units requiring no more than 30% of the income of someone, or a family for larger units, at or near the poverty line.

    Building only “luxury” housing, or requiring minimum square footages that have the same effect, or lot sizes that do the same in single-family developments, is just as much social engineering as telling the developer s/he needs to build some housing for those of low to moderate income as part of the project. If what you want to create is an egalitarian community, then those kinds of restrictions make sense. If what you’d rather see is a stratified, class-based community based on income, then of course you allow the developer(s) to build as much “luxury” as they think the market will bear.

    Personally, I like to visualize a gated “community” that includes some Section 8 housing…

  13. Submitted by JS Park on 02/18/2015 - 03:37 pm.


    Case in point in support of Orfield’s study: the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood. Ideally this would be a location with thriving social services and infrastructure, but the reality is when politicians and policy makers have no incentive to invest into a neighborhood or community (and/or no fear of neglecting to do so), it will suffer. Funneling affordable housing money into neighborhoods like Cedar-Riverside means funneling populations that typically don’t have as much influence and voice into one, painless (for the policy makers at least) to neglect district.

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