A housing desegregation pact was just signed by one of the richest New York Counties. Racial red-lining has been banned in the US for decades, but there are work arounds, such as property values, the loss of building permits, apathy and so on. But not for this place where a court order is
compel[ing] [Westchester] to create hundreds of houses and apartments for moderate-income people in overwhelmingly white communities and aggressively market them to nonwhites in Westchester and New York City.
The agreement calls for the [Westchester] county to spend more than $50 million of its own money, in addition to other funds, to build or acquire 750 homes or apartments, 630 of which must be provided in towns and villages where black residents constitute 3 percent or less of the population and Hispanic residents make up less than 7 percent. The 120 other spaces must meet different criteria for cost and ethnic concentration.
Some cities have almost gone bankrupt arguing against desegregation. It must have been brutal for the kids going to the white schools once the cases were won! Imagine doing this in the Glebe, Rockliffe Park, Westboro, Westmount, Rosedale and so on. The Anti-Discrimination Center successfully argued this case in court. The Anti-Discrimination Center works
to prevent and remedy all forms of discrimination in housing, employment, education, and public accommodations through advocacy, litigation, education, outreach, monitoring, and research. The Center is a 501(c)(3)not-for-profit corporation organized under the laws of the State of New York.
NIMBY (not in my back yard) has been around for a long time. Mostly, it is neighbourhood members coming together to get prostitutes & crack dealers out of their communities using vigilante style tactics because the police do little. Usually the problem just moves to the neighbourhood next door and the social issue continues. In other cases NIMBY coalitions come together to stop environmentally detrimental projects from coming to their hoods. Often, but not always wealthier neighbourhoods win and poorer neighbourhoods that do not have the resources to fight and so get the unwanted projects. Again, nasty development does not disappear or is made cleaner, it just moves.
In Ottawa we see NIMBY in gentrifying neighbourhoods like mine - Chinatown, where first time home buyers realize that their house was cheap because it is beside a rooming house or public housing and so they organize to close these down or to stop the construction of new ones. NIMBYs have successfully lobbied against payphones as these were used by drug dealers. Too bad for the rest of the population such as the poor family that needs the phone! Bref, instead of dealing with the real issues, poverty, social inequality and exclusion, we construct ugly social housing or concentrate all the poor and marginalized in one small area where we cannot see them or we displace them from prime real estate.
Lebreton Flats is a classic example of this, where an entire community was expropriated in the 1960s as their neighbourhood was suddenly deemed a slum. The area remained vacant for 40 years and now high end ugly condos are being built by a sole builder - Claridge homes! A deal that sounds much like those negotiated in the Wire. Claridge even has the nerve to call it one of Ottawa’s newest urban villages! Good grief - it was one of Ottawa’s first neighbourhoods! We are still waiting for housing to show up, the bike paths to open and for a definition of affordable housing. Funny that the housing just across the street on Lorne by Nanny Goat hill, Booth Street or Primrose has become high end. It was the same kinds of housing that was on Lebreton Flats and some are considered as heritage districts. Go figure! Who gets to label a slum as a slum!
I read about great spatial location analysis of public housing strategies in the city of Montreal. The objective was to locate public housing in mixed income neighbourhoods, with access to public transit, grocery stores, schools and daycares. Then proposals were developed to build small numbers of affordable and/or subsidized units in those areas, but designed in such a way that they would blend into the neighbourhood look and feel. This reduced public housing blight and does not ghettoize the poor. In Ottawa we have hid and concentrated high numbers of really horrid looking public housing in inaccessible neighbourhoods - no library, no transit, terrible walkability, no grocery store, no trees, no parks. I am not a geographic determinist, but I am sure that these are not the best conditions for developing pride of place and for kids to thrive. Class segregation is alive and well in Ottawa.