Dismantling the Architecture of Segregation

A Conference Sponsored by the Center for Urban Research and Education, the Department of
Public Policy and Administration, and the Scholars Strategy Network

Multipurpose Room, Rutgers University-Camden Student Center
Camden, New Jersey, October 11, 2019

Thank you to our presenters and all who attended!

About the Conference:

Recent land use and zoning proposals around the United States directly attack the “Architecture of Segregation” – the public policies and institutional practices that further spatial inequality. Single- family zoning, for example, has effectively been used to keep lower-income people out of certain neighborhoods. To address this inequity, Minneapolis has eliminated single-family zoning throughout the city. Oregon and Seattle are considering similar measures. Several 2020 Presidential candidates, including Senators Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, and Elizabeth Warren, have offered significant proposals to break down exclusionary zoning. Segregation will not be solved through reform of land use policies alone, but the recent attention to the role of unwise public policies in creating and sustaining spatial inequality is a welcome first step.

This one-day conference will bring together leading academics, practitioners, and policymakers to develop an anti-segregation policy agenda. Speakers and panelists will articulate, analyze, and debate policy changes to finally begin to dismantle the Architecture of Segregation. We invite research papers on topics such as: 1) land use and housing policies that contribute to the persistence of segregation in the United States; 2) policy analyses of proposed policies intended to promote racial and economic integration; and 3) analyses of the implementation and evaluations of the impact of such policies.

This conference is necessary because the persistence of segregation by race and class casts a long shadow on the nation. In the average metropolitan area, 60 percent of blacks would have to move to a different neighborhood to achieve full integration. In some major metropolitan areas, such as New York, Detroit, or Milwaukee, the figure is nearly 80 percent. Black and white children enrolled in school are even more segregated than adults. Segregation of blacks from Asians, while lower on average, is growing. The nation is segregated by income as well as race, with more than 11 million persons residing in high-poverty areas – 56 percent higher than in 2000. A growing body of research confirms the detrimental effects that socially and economically isolated neighborhoods have on the health, safety, and life chances of those who live in them, particularly children.

There is a growing realization that segregation by race and ethnicity and concentration of poverty are not inevitable, but rather result from public policies and institutional arrangements that have governed the growth and development of metropolitan areas for decades:

  • The federal government subsidized suburban development that depopulated urban cores, allowed suburban jurisdictions to exclude low-income families, and tolerated blatant racial discrimination in suburban housing markets and housing finance.
  • Fragmented governance allowed suburban jurisdictions to set local development policies with no regard for the larger metropolitan areas within which they were embedded.
  • Tax policy rewarded construction of large homes while housing policies reinforced segregated patterns of public and assisted housing.

Every social and economic problem is both harder and costlier to solve in the context of vastly unequal neighborhoods. Thus, reducing segregation is an essential first step to fixing failing schools, improving health and education outcomes for low-income children, and improving spatial access to opportunity. Moreover, moving towards more integrated living patterns will help break down the walls of distrust that contribute to racial animosity, growing inequality, and political polarization.

In addition to research papers, the conference will feature presentations by public officials, policymakers, and advocates actively engaged in efforts to promote integration through changes to land use regulations, housing finance reform, fair housing enforcement, and affordable housing development. The event will be livestreamed and broadcast on social media via the CURE Twitter account, @CURECamden.


8:30-9:00am: Registration and Continental Breakfast.

9:00-9:10am: Welcoming Remarks. Chancellor Phoebe Haddon, Rutgers-Camden.

9:10-9:30am: Introduction and Overview of the Day. Paul A. Jargowsky, Professor of Public Policy and Director, Center for Urban Research and Education (CURE), Rutgers-Camden.

9:30-11:00am: Panel 1 – Zoning and Land Use.

Paul Gottlieb and John Borrmann, Rutgers-New Brunswick. The Suburban Wall:  Zoning Restrictions in the New Jersey Highlands and their Effects on Economic Stratification Across Space.

Andre Comandon, UCLA. Fragmenting Los Angeles: An Historical Institutionalist Approach to Exclusionary Urban Development and Policy.

J. Rosie Tighe, Cleveland State University. The Intersection of Land Use Regulations and Community Attitudes in Determining Housing Choice and Access.

Richard Sander, UCLA and Yana Kucheva, CCNY. How Does Metropolitan Desegregation Come About?

11:00-11:15am: Break.

11:15-12:45pm: Panel 2 – Race and Power.

Hilary Silver, George Washington University. “Race, Homelessness, and Shelter Siting Disputes:  Implications for Segregation.”

Norrinda Brown Hayat, Rutgers – Newark. Section 8 Is the New N-Word: Policing Integration in the Age of Black Mobility.

Kanika Khanna, Cornell. “Examining Claims of Spatial Segregation in New York City’s Affordable Housing Policy Administration.”

Maria Krysan, Allison Helmuth, Sha’Kurra Evans, University of Illinois at Chicago. “Cataloging Racial Residential Integration Efforts: A Preliminary Report.”

12:45-1:45pm: Lunch Discussion. Richard Sander et al., “Disrupting Segregation: The National Moonshot Initiative.”

1:45-3:15pm: Panel 3 – Housing and Community.

Stefanie DeLuca, Johns Hopkins University. “Creating Moves to Opportunity.”

Joni Hirsch, Mark Joseph, Amy Khare. National Initiative on Mixed-Income Community. “Promoting Inclusive, Equitable Mixed-Income Communities:  An Analysis of San Francisco’s Hope SF and Washington, DC’s New Communities Initiative.”

Kathryn L. Howell, VCU. “Building Bridges and Digging Moats:  The Infrastructure for Affordable Housing Preservation in Washington, DC.”

Willow S. Lung-Amam, University of Maryland. “Metropolitan Planning in a Vacuum: Lessons on Regional Equity Planning from Baltimore’s Sustainable Communities Initiative.”

3:15-3:30pm: Break.

3:30-5:15pm: Panel 4 – Boundaries.

Christian Hess, University of Washington and Rutgers-Camden. How Suburban Is Racial Segregation in U.S. Metropolitan Areas?

John Lauermann, City University of New York. “Luxury Real Estate and Residential Segregation in New York City.”

Ryan W. Coughlan, Molloy College, and Julia Sass Rubin, Rutgers-New Brunswick. “The Segregating Effects of Charter Schools.”

Ariel Bierbaum and Gail Sunderman, University of Maryland. “Dismantling the Architecture of Segregated Schooling: School Re-zoning as Land Use and Growth Management Policy.”

Russell M. Smith, Winston-Salem State University. “Boundaries, Borders, and Spatial (In)Justices.”

5:15-5:30: Break

5:30-6:30pm: Keynote Address. Gregory Squires, George Washington University. “Inequality, Segregation, and the Right to the City.”

6:30-7:00pm: Hors d’Oeuvres and Conversation.