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It’s the zipcode stupid

We now know that we can predict life outcomes by zip codes. We can predict relative earnings of children by zip code, morbidity rates by zip code. And so HUD has two strategies: The one is the restoration of communities, so we can begin to mitigate impact by zip code. But the other is to do what has to be done, which is to provide people choice.

Though Westchester is often thought of as über-affluent, the county’s demographics are actually quite complex. Since 1950, increasing numbers of working and middle-class African Americans have migrated from inner-city New York into Westchester, in search of safe streets and decent schools. But as the black population grew, Westchester became more and more segregated, with every new affordable housing unit constructed in towns that already had significant black populations — such as Yonkers, White Plains, and Peekskill. The problem compounded as Hispanic immigration to Westchester increased in the 1980s and 1990s, and these communities, too, became segregated in a small number of neighborhoods. Through all of these changes, local municipalities acted knowingly, enacting zoning that prevented the construction of high-density rental housing in white neighborhoods. The county never intervened.

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