The Challenge Income Inequality Raises for Planners

Two recent New York Times articles help highlight how growing income inequality raises some interesting issues for urban planners.  Most cities were built with extensive middle-income neighborhoods, and the thrust of most city planning efforts are to retain and strengthen those residential areas.  But a recent Stanford University study reinforces the idea that we are becoming a society with a much smaller middle class and much less willingness to share public spaces.

If true, this requires thinking about housing and residential neighborhoods in new ways.  How should we respond?  Residential areas might have to include stratified housing choices, including high end housing and new types of lower income housing, such as the option described here in a recent NYT article. While the ideal of extensive middle-income and mixed income neighborhoods holds tremendous conceptual appeal, the reality on the ground may require us to plan for our urban areas in new ways.


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