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“Smart Growth” Discriminates Against Poor

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Baltimore M.D.

“Smart Growth” land use policies that restrict development in metropolitan areas are becoming a new form of segregation, says the African American leadership network Project 21.

A new econometric study, “Smart Growth and Its Effects on Housing Markets: The New Segregation,” commissioned in part by Project 21, analyzes the way smart growth policies restrict homeownership opportunities for minorities, young families and the poor.
Perceiving that development (“urban sprawl”) is destroying remaining open space in the U.S., local governments have been restricting development. In fact, only about five percent of American land is currently developed. Project 21’s report finds that restricting new development denies underprivileged yet upwardly mobile segments of the population their chance of homeownership.
By using a model to retroactively apply the smart growth policies already enforced in the Portland, Oregon region to a national scale, Project 21’s report found that these policies would have increased the average price of a home by approximately $10,000 in 2002 dollars over the last ten years alone. This would restrict an estimated one million households from being able to afford a home. Of the million, 260,000 would be minority. The resulting homeownership crisis would raise rental prices approximately six percent.

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