11 May 2007

Middle Class Neighborhoods Vanishing

Personal observation tells me that neighborhoods are becoming more and more segregated. I see it all the time: a new subdivision is proposed and the developer promises that all the houses will be priced from $250-350. This way people will be completely surrounded by people in their exact income bracket, not higher, and certainly not lower. A partial answer is a return to the mixed-income, urban neighborhood.

Middle-class neighborhoods, long regarded as incubators for the American dream, are losing ground in cities across the country, shrinking at more than twice the rate of the middle class itself.

In their place, poor and rich neighborhoods are both on the rise...

"No city in America has gotten more integrated by income in the last 30 years" ...

...a sorting-out process is underway in the nation's suburbs and inner cities, with many previously middle-income neighborhoods now tipping rich or poor.

... increased residential segregation by income can remove a fundamental rung from the nation's ladder for social mobility: moderate-income neighborhoods with decent schools, nearby jobs, low crime and reliable services.

For people who do not want to put up with aging, troubled neighborhoods and have the means to do something about it, escape is remarkably easy -- in Indianapolis and across much of the country.

The housing industry in the Midwest and the Northeast routinely floods local markets with new, ever-larger houses. In greater Indianapolis, more than 27,500 houses were constructed between 2000 and 2004, even though the population grew by only 3,000.

In the process, older houses and many older neighborhoods -- such as McCray's -- have become as disposable as used cars.

"As upper-income Americans are drawn to the new houses, neighborhoods become more homogenous," he said. Echoing the Brookings study, he said: "The zoning is such that it prevents anything other than a certain income range from living there. It is our latest method of discrimination."

By Blaine Harden
Washington Post Staff Writer

1 comment:

catherine said...

I am hopeful that the partnership that 3CDC has formed with Model Management and possibly with OTR Community Housing will help ensure some income diversity in OTR. Being in the midwest there is not the influx of foreign immigres necessarry to create the cultural diversity of other more cosmopolitan places. We can appreciate the diversity we have by being more willing to interact with people of different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives that a mixed income neighborhood can provide. I am afraid that so far the recruitment of businesses for the storefronts does not reflect the diverse needs and desires of the population and hope that they include more Tuckers with the Cavels.