Affluent Chicago suburb to adjust number of poor people allowed to be residents

Sometimes when people lobby their local officials to segregate poor people, they use a thinly-veiled code and talk about how renters or people who live in small apartments don’t contribute to the community. (What kind of people rent or live in smaller apartments? Who knows! All kinds, I’m sure.)

Sometimes, they don’t bother:

As a number of recent high-profile developments and decisions show a trend toward a more urban lifestyle in Arlington Heights, officials there will take on a year-long process to update the village’s community planning strategy….

Thomas Hayes, village board president, said the plan hasn’t been updated since 1997 because the landscape and demographics of the village haven’t changed much. [Ed.: Curious.]

Hayes, for his part, has said he wants to keep the village’s current landscape in line with its suburban culture, primarily consisting of single-family homes….

[But] some residents slammed it as a move that will usher in low-income housing and associated troubles.

Arlington Heights is 90% white, and its median household income is $76,000. The Chicago metro area is 54% white and its median household income is $59,000. Arlington Heights’ schools are excellent, its crime rate is very low, and, as the article points out, it has excellent transit access to major job centers in Chicago. Everything suggests that this is the kind of place that all sorts of people would love to live.

So how many people moved to Arlington Heights over the 2000s? Actually, the city lost population. Because it’s more or less illegal to build housing there.

The route I take to the University of Chicago campus every day from Logan Square usually takes me on the 59 bus, which winds through the Washington Park neighborhood for about 15 minutes before depositing me at the Harris School. Out the window, I see streets that look like this:


It’s tempting to think that, since the problems are all there – out the window of the bus – the sources of the problems must be there, too. Unemployment, bad schools, family breakdown, gangs, etc.

But really, a major source is this place:


Government-enforced segregation that concentrates wealth in one place necessarily concentrates poverty as well. On top of that, it’s also a negative-sum policy for society as a whole.

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