Affordability vs. racial inclusion may sound like an odd battle to be having, yet it’s one that often simmers below the surface in discussions of neighborhood change. The words “Nearly 50 years after the passage of the federal Fair Housing Act…” are, of course, no small part of the reason. And in a city known for its diversity–one that often feels more racially integrated than it is–the question of how housing policy might affect racial makeup tends to be carefully sidestepped, but the New York Times opens that worm-can in a subsection called “Race/Related.”
Focusing in on just race can be taboo when looking at gentrification, but a new study finds that an area’s racial composition is actually the biggest predictor of how a changing neighborhood is perceived. CityLab recently dissected the study conducted by sociologist Jackelyn Hwang to find that the way that blacks and whites perceive and talk about change in their neighborhood is often wildly different. This gap in perception has wide-reaching effects for changing neighborhoods because not only does it polarize the individual groups, but it can also have a tremendous effect on where neighborhood boundaries are drawn and investment is distributed.