graphic showing scales containing houses

Lens on Mixed Results of Efforts to Combat Housing Segregation

Michael Lens, associate professor of urban planning and public policy, co-authored a Health Affairs policy brief about the effectiveness of different programs designed to combat residential segregation. Over more than a century, exclusionary policies embedded in land use and housing codes have kept Americans separated by race, ethnicity and income, leading to significant health disparities. The authors review the historical impact of several interventions, including housing vouchers that allow residents to move to more advantaged neighborhoods; local and state policies to expand the housing stock by increasing density in resource-rich communities or redeveloping public housing; and federal legislation and regulations to compel fair housing practices. “There are many policies, programs, laws and lawsuits that have tried to chip away at segregation in America’s cities and towns,” but many have been underfunded or deprioritized, the authors wrote. While some progress has been made, they conclude that the fight against residential segregation has yet to see consequential gains.


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