It’s hard being post-racial when things like this keep happening.
I wanted so badly to believe that right would prevail.
scoffed when some of my more cynical associates said “the powers that
be” would never allow low-income housing in upscale Ballantyne.
“That’s crazy,” I insisted. “You can’t simply draw a red line around certain parts of town and exclude poor people.
“This is 2010,” I said, “not 1960.”
Well, guess who got a wake-up call.
Monday, just as Ballantyne residents were gearing up for a public
showdown, the Charlotte Housing Authority walked away from plans to
build 86 low-income units in one of the city’s more affluent
A CHA spokeswoman said the decision was based on
economics, not local opposition. Given the price of land in Ballantyne,
she said, the per-unit cost was simply too high. The housing authority,
she said, remains committed to its oft-stated goal of having low-income
units spread fairly throughout Charlotte, not just clustered in pockets
of urban decay.
I, for one, find that explanation hard to swallow.
we taxpayers to believe that, after decades of building homes to
shelter the poor, that CHA on Monday finally realized that its per-unit
cost goes up when land gets expensive?
If we follow that logic, redlining of wealthy neighborhoods would be the inevitable result.
be completely fair, the CHA spokeswoman said the economic calculus got
funny only after Republic Development Group, the lead developer on the
project, reduced the number of low-income units from 110 to 86.
enough. But what about the cost to society when we stubbornly continue
to cluster poverty? Did CHA factor into its equation the price we all
pay for high crime, failing schools and lost human capital in
hopelessly poor communities?
In his run for office last fall,
Mayor Anthony Foxx correctly stated that it was morally wrong to
cluster more low-income housing in neighborhoods already suffering from
myriad social ills. (Ballantyne, by the way, has lots of land to
develop but not a single low-income housing unit.) And
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Peter Gorman has said that
many of our educational woes can be traced to the concentration of
It’s no secret that many of the families that stand to benefit from the diffusion of low-income housing are African American.
also no secret that, of the 11 people who serve on City Council, five
are African American – six of 12 if Foxx is counted. This is the same
City Council that appoints CHA’s seven-member Board of Commissioners.
don’t accept that economics alone caused CHA to abandon the Ballantyne
project. Now, it’s up to those we put in office to ferret out the whole