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Racist planning shaped our city; conscientious planning can help undo its mistakes

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Today is the 51st anniversary of the federal Fair Housing Act, and New York City is debating adding a comprehensive planning requirement to its charter — one that would require the City to assess and address racial and economic disparities in its land use, planning and budgetary decisions. Some have argued that this would be unwise and impractical.

But this complaint about allegedly cumbersome planning obscures the long history of racist top-down planning that has fundamentally shaped our city — for the worse. Generations of government decisions have driven low-income people of color to under-resourced neighborhoods, creating the city we have today, which remains one of the most segregated and unequal in America. Planning that finally centers the needs of low-wealth communities of color is not a radical idea: It’s a necessary and proactive way to address inequities that were put in place by past plans, and have been in place for far too long.

Consider this condensed history of how that perverse planning shaped the city and metro area we live in today.

The federal government entered the housing field in the 1930s and began to offer home loan insurance and refinancing, but it didn’t offer this support everywhere; it encouraged lenders not to invest in “redlined”........

© NY Daily News