The American dream is the single detached house with the white picket fence… well now we know what the fence was for: to keep others out. The housing market has always been skewed in favor of the rich and the white. From American history we know of the big African American migration from the south to the urban centers which resulted in the tenements with horrible conditions and the move of the rich to the suburbs. But this isn’t about the history; it is about the practices found in many towns as they attempt to keep their towns “safe”.
It says a lot when government has to make it part of the law in order for towns to section certain areas for low income housing. Towns generally don’t prefer to offer a lot of low income housing alternatives because of the association of the “poor” with crime and degradation. Measure are taken on the local government level, since it is composed of the towns people anyway, to ensure that the town remains mostly for the higher income families in order to keep the housing prices high. They employ such tools as zoning properties with bigger chunks of land so it is difficult for the lower income to afford.
Even the low income housing a town is required to offer aren’t always in the best part of the town. An invisible wall is created sometimes dividing towns into halves. There’s the rich side and the not so rich side and they try their best to keep them separated as to not affect the high income neighborhoods. I remember once reading about a town where the people of the high income neighborhood protested the building of a bike trail that would go in a loop connecting the two parts of the town because they didn’t want to be associated with the other. A bike trail would have meant a drop in the housing market for the rich. America has gone through many reforms and changes over the years and learnt many things along the way but if there is one thing about the American dream that always holds true is that it’s built on money, not people.