Land use decisions, reflected in zoning and tax/assessed values on land, drive inequality.
Rich Houston teems with greenery and public parks.
But unfair zoning laws mean its poorer communities of color bake in the hot sun
Every weekday at 6am, 68-year-old Ana Adelea-Lopez walks through her Houston neighborhood to the bus stop.On the way, she passes a series of apartment complexes, telephone poles and metal fences on a long stretch of sidewalk. For the entirety of her walk, there’s not a single tree in sight.
“You can’t even be on the street because of the heat,” said Adelea-Lopez who takes the bus to her seamstress job. “There aren’t a lot of trees. There are a lot of apartments. A lot of cement.”
And alongside housing policy, road and transportation policies that favor car owners are driving a new kind of segregation, where those who can afford to migrate to cheaper housing will take their unearned wealth to the suburbs, leaving behind neglected city cores to fall in value until they are redeveloped by those who reclaim them — gentrification is never far behind.