What is Stopping Poor People From Moving?

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Why have people stopped moving? The reason, economists believe, is that while there are good wages in economically vibrant cities like New York and San Francisco, housing prices are so high that they outweigh any gains people stand to make in earnings. As a result, high-income cities are still appealing to many workers, but only highly skilled workers who can command salaries high enough to make it worthwhile to move. Low-income workers will end up spending much of their incomes on housing if they move, and so stay put.

Source: The Atlantic.

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Cities Should not Encourage Home Ownership

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One of the points made by William Fischel in his writings about zoning and NIMBYism is that the impetus for this behavior comes from homeowners trying to safeguard the value of their investment. Per Fischel, since most homeowners’ entire savings are locked up in one risky asset, they are risk-averse when it comes to any neighborhood change, leading to NIMBYism. Renters are more flexible.

Source: Pedestrian Observations

Around Massachusetts, racial divides persist

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Even when they are in the same income bracket as whites, minorities in the Boston region are turned down for mortgages at a higher rate and live in substantially less well-off neighborhoods, according to a study by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council in Boston. The average white family earning $78,000 a year in metro Boston lives in a neighborhood where the median household income is $72,400 a year, while the average black household earning $78,000 a year lives in an area where the median is $51,100 a year.

Source: Boston Globe

Leaving Home: Austin’s Declining African American Population

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Austin is the only major growing city in the United States that is losing African Americans. Eric Tang, associate professor in the Department of African and African Diaspora Studies, was intrigued by this fact, as well as the ways in which Jim Crow segregation and neo-liberal gentrification converge here in what he describes as a “unique and intense” way. As he explains in an interview with Caroline Pinkston for an upcoming episode of the Humanities Media Project podcast Life of the Mind:

Source: Life & Letters Magazine

With Porches And Parks, A Texas Community Aims For Urban Utopia

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The traditional model of residential American development is to lay out a grid of streets and line them with two-story houses featuring giant closets and voluptuous two-car garages.

Mueller, in contrast, is intentionally dense development. Construction began in 2007, and today, walking along the sidewalks, you notice tiny yards and big, inviting front porches. The car is still king here, but many of them are hybrids and electrics, and they’re out of sight.

“At Mueller, every house has a garage, but they’re always in the back. The porch is in the front,” says Jim Adams, hired by the City of Austin as Mueller’s master planner.

via NPR.

It’s Foolish To Define Austin By Its City Limits

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Cities grow in two key ways, and when we talk about how “big” a “city” has become, or how fast it has grown, we often conflate two forms of expansion: spatial and demographic. On the one hand, the footprint of a city changes shape; year to year and decade to decade, growing municipalities annex more and more land. On the other hand, urban growth also involves a bigger and bigger batch of humanity living in and around that bulging municipality.

But the one hand does not always know what the other is doing, and when population growth outpaces geographic growth — like it has in Austin — things get messy.

via FiveThirtyEight.