Some local politicians have said that our current single-family neighborhoods are racist because the zoning that they were originally founded on were exclusionary, and there is an implication that anyone who currently supports the continuation of single-family zoning has racist tendencies. My family has been integrated since the early 1970’s; my aunt Nancy moved to California where she met and married my uncle Saul who is african-american, they had three mixed race children, who all self-identify as african-american because due to their skin tone, that is how the rest of the world sees them. Growing up in my family gave me broader horizons than most people have, and I reject any implication that my support for single-family neighborhoods is racist.
I’ve been an insurance adjuster since 2002, and during that time I’ve sat at the kitchen tables of thousands of african-american families who owned single-family homes. They often shared their stories with me, recounting how they had bought their home many years ago, lovingly maintained them, paid them off over time, making improvements or changes along the way to suit their needs as their families changed and as they aged in place. They told me how single-family homeownership had provided them with a stable community where they could raise their families, and a financial asset that they could draw upon from time to time to meet various needs. Single-family homeownership allowed them to send their children and grandchildren to trade schools, colleges and professional schools, allowed them to help their children and grandchildren with their downpayment on their own single-family homes, and allowed them to assist family members with medical or other urgent expenses. Single-family homeownership has provided african-americans with stability and the ability to build intergenerational wealth that they could pass on, which is why I support policies that provide greater access to single-family homeownership.
My aunt and uncle owned a single-family home when they were raising their family, and my three cousins benefitted from the same stability and wealth accumulation that I’ve described above. All three of my cousins went to college, one is a nurse, one has done very well working in the tech industry and the other got her PHD and now works for a large insurance company. This was made possible because my aunt and uncle owned a single-family home which gave them the financial resources to send their daughters to good schools and colleges.
We need to ensure that people of all racial categories and income levels have access to our housing markets, but we shouldn’t deny today’s residents the same stability, quality of life and access to resources that have allowed so many people to prosper.
There are a variety of ways that we can address our housing needs that don’t involve disruption in our neighborhoods, and I am willing to engage in those conversations to ensure that we meet our affordability and environmental goals. This could have been a much better community conversation if baseless accusations of racism had not been made. I hope we can move forward with a more thoughtful approach. We have an incredible mixture of zoning districts in our community, and I support having this variety of housing choices.