Local residents often object to nearby high density housing development because it will change the “character” of their community. Yet we don’t appreciate how we came to live in homogeneous upper-middle class neighborhoods.
I feel lucky that are able to own a home in beautiful Sonoma because our parents were able to help us with our down payment. Thus we benefitted from the generational wealth of our families. We need to realize the reasons that people of color have not been as able to accumulate wealth through home ownership. This is because of generations of public policies that discriminated against non-whites.
Through official government actions African Americans were explicitly excluded from benefitting from the Homestead Act, New Deal benefits, and the GI Bill. Suburban housing developments often included racial covenants that prohibited sale of homes to people of color.
So, the character of the white upper-middle class neighborhoods many of us enjoy is the direct result of government-sanctioned discrimination. We have a moral obligation to accept changes to the character of our neighborhoods through the inclusion of lower income housing and higher density as the price to be paid for ending America’s shameful history of racist housing segregation policies.
— Matt Metzler, Sonoma