80 Pages

Introduction to Part Three

In a study of neighborhood development in Minneapolis, suggestively titled “Revenge of the Property Owners,” Goetz and Sidney (1994) document the confl ict between property owners and lower-income tenants. They found that community organizations were dominated by people who espoused an “ideology of property,” a key point of which is that too much rental housing leads to neighborhood decline. Affordable housing policies for renters were to be avoided, according to this dominant faction, because they increase the neighborhood’s concentrations of both poverty and transients who have no stake in the neighborhood. Because property owners are less transient and have a stake in the neighborhood’s long-term wellbeing, policy should therefore be crafted to provide benefi ts for them, halting middle-class fl ight and attracting investment and stakeholders. This ideology – that owners are better citizens than renters – is a modern manifestation of a bias hardened in stereotypes that has misguided American public policy from colonial times to the present.