Surprise, surprise, surprise.
The Milwaukee area's segregation by income grew faster than in any other region in the country from 1970 to 2000, according to a new Brookings Institution report.
The report says:
Geographic isolation may reduce job opportunities for the poor and lack of exposure to higher-income families may affect skill acquisition among disadvantaged youth.
In addition, if neighborhoods affect the life chances of people who live in them, then inequality today could perpetuate future inequality via continued income segregation and polarization.
The study, "New Housing, Income Inequality, and Distressed Metropolitan Areas," also finds that the Milwaukee region, shamefully, ranks #1 among distressed regions in residential isolation of families in the bottom fifth of the income distribution.
Distressed regions are defined as those with little or no economic or population growth. In those areas, the report said:
When the rich want to segregate themselves from the poor, they move into new high-income
neighborhoods. Unlike in supply-constrained metropolitan areas, it is less expensive for the rich to buy new housing than to gentrify existing housing. Unlike in rapidly growing metropolitan areas, this new housing construction would not occur solely because of population growth, because there is little or no population growth in distressed areas. Unlike in the other two types of metropolitan areas, in distressed areas, market pressure for income segregation leads to new housing construction in excess of what would be expected given population growth alone. This new construction may, in turn, accelerate the decline of older urban neighborhoods.
Can anyone say "Pabst Farms"?
The Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission has managed to delay for years a promised study on affordable housing. While saying it couldn't afford the study, SEWRPC instead has spent tens of thousands of dollars on developing a new logo and commissioning a book about itself.
Maybe it's just time for a regional planning commission that takes regional planning seriously.