September 16, 2020

The vocabulary of neighborhood policymaking in the U.S. generally contrasts neighborhoods of concentrated poverty on the one hand with opportunity neighborhoods on the other. Policymakers target “racially concentrated areas of poverty” and researchers write about the disadvantage and dysfunction of these neighborhoods. For decades, U.S. housing policy has been oriented toward moving lower-income households out of those neighborhoods and into what policymakers regard as better environments where the families will have access to greater opportunities in education and employment. In many cities, however, residents of low-wealth neighborhoods are resisting the stigmatizing of their communities and the assumptions that suggest better lives are best achieved through moving into closer proximity to affluent, white residents.

CURA Researchers Edward G. Goetz, Anthony Damiano, and Rashad A. Williams recently published an article describing the work of Equity in Place, a coalition of community-based organizations in the Minneapolis – St. Paul metropolitan area. The article traces how the group has worked to: 

  1. Change the narrative about economically disadvantaged communities of color from the deficiencies of those neighborhoods to the systems of racism and discrimination that produce extreme levels of spatial inequality in U.S. urban areas
  2. Question mobility strategies aimed at moving people into opportunity neighborhoods and supporting initiatives that target the social, political, and economic processes producing regional inequities
  3. Changing the way decisions are made about these communities by asserting the expertise of residents about their own lives and insisting upon the participation of those residents in policymaking.

Read the Goetz, Damiano, and Williams essay

This essay is published as part of a volume titled, What Works to Promote Inclusive, Equitable Mixed-Income Communities, edited by Dr. Mark L. Joseph and Dr. Amy T. Khare, with developmental editing support provided by Leila Fiester. Production is led by the National Initiative on Mixed-Income Communities (NIMC) at the Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University, with lead funding provided by The Kresge Foundation. The volume aims to equip a broad audience of policymakers, funders, practitioners, community activists, and researchers with the latest thinking and tools needed to achieve more inclusive and equitable mixed-income communities. This is the fifth volume in the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco’s What Works series, which has sought to analyze a variety of key themes in urban development.

Read more of the What Works series