Cover Image: Excluded


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This book is a must-read.  "Excluded: How Snob Zoning, NIMBYISM, And Class Bias Build The Walls We Don't See" takes the work of Richard Rothstein covered in his book "The Color of Law" into even more detail about  how zoning laws contribute to inequities (from education, jobs, housing, etc.).  I learned a lot about how even liberal communities can be the most resistant to mixed income or changed zoning laws.  This author's "a ha" moment came at a School Board Meeting in Charlotte to focus on a plan to improve student achievement.  Kahlenberg spent 20 years writing about education focused on the fact that one of the best predictors of academic success is not the per pupil spending in a school district but instead whether students have the opportunity to attend schools with an economically mixed group of classmates rather than schools where most of the students are poor. The author walks us through a meticulously researched journey on how education issues are shaped by housing policy and that mostly invisible zoning rules (and community resistance) dictate which economic groups can live where. Liberals like myself do not come off well in this book -- we still suffer from a class elitism problem and so we need to also recognize what part we play in this systemic problem. I was heartened to see the incredible work done by a coalition of different stakeholders in Minneapolis to allow multi-family dwellings (many communities have zoning that only allow single family dwellings and a specific density.  The examples throughout the book give me hope while at the same time helped me start to ask myself - how can I be part of the solution as opposed to being a part of the problem.  I recommend this book. 

Thank you to Netgalley and PublicAffairs for an ARC and I left this review voluntarily.
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I wish I could make every single person who posts on my Nextdoor app read this book. A great resource to have on hand for future reference.
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In the book excluded by Richard D Collinberg he talks about all the ways those in charge try to keep out the low income and or undesirables but let me just say I live in a mixed income neighborhood called Claiborne Beech Grove homes and their new houses with three and four bedrooms and they have been renting them out since 2008 I have lived here for five years and I cannot wait to move out. They have neighbors that drive tesla‘s and those that drive work trucks but it’s the ones that don’t work and hang out smoking weed in front of the children that play in the road it’s the parents that don’t teach their children to respect their neighbors property The gunshots were here at least once a week and there is no way an application is going to tell you if once someone gets a Home they’re going to do that it’s because more and more people like me who pay regular rent or moving out and they’re giving more homes to section 8 and eventually this neighborhood will be like many others and solely under the rule of hard and the problem goes on. They are going to blame it on prejudice racism ET see but in the book this type of neighborhood was one of his resolutions and I am a witness to the fact it is failing. Let me just say I am one of a few High income families that still live  here but just like the rest of them I will be gone by October. I want to thank NetGalley and the publisher for my free arc copy please forgive any mistakes as I am blind and dictate my review.
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A look into how America’s zoning policies create segregation, especially among classes. I really liked the first couple chapters of this book! It was so interesting (and depressing). The later chapters were more hypothetical/how things could be improved. While I appreciated the author’s intention to include this, I feel like the people reading this book are probably not the people that solutions need to be thrown at (since they care enough to read about the topic). Despite that, the first couple chapters are definitely worth a read! 

I received my copy from Netgalley in exchange for a honest review.
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This author writes a very impressive argument against exclusionary zoning whereby wealthy geographies use zoning laws to keep lower income earners out of their neighborhoods.  Whenever someone from the opposite side of the political aisle can convey a persuasive case, I immediately have respect for them.  The author is a deeply thoughtful person who has looked at the ramifications of exclusionary zoning from every perspective and addressed every case for and against it.

In terms of a reading experience, despite the clever title copywriting, this seems like a book for policy wonks as opposed to mainstream non-fiction readers.  It's accessible, yes, but it's not a book filled with personal anecdotes highlighting the key points.  

Still, if you care about the issues of unaffordable housing and how that impacts the economically deprived in this country, then this book has to be a definitive treatise on the topic.  Every politician, local and national, regardless of party should pick this up and read it.
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Excluded: How Snob Zoning, NIMBYISM, And Class Bias Build The Walls We Don't See, by Richard D. Kahlenberg, examines the deep struggles many Americans face in their quest to simply own a home in today's economic climate.  This is a very well-researched book, and Kahlenberg does a great job of explaining how the U.S. got to this place, and also offers specific ideas to get us to a more equitable one.

I felt that the author was fair, and gave many examples of how both liberals and conservatives show bias and prejudice (and how they do so in different ways).  There were a few times when the ideas and research presented  had me examining my own inherent biases.

I especially enjoyed reading the personal stories of actual people, and wished there had been more time allotted to their journeys.  By the end of the book, I did feel like there was perhaps too many statistics, research study facts, and repeated information.  While they did give credibility to his argument, at times it just felt redundant.  I think this book would benefit from a few more specific personal narratives and a few less statistics.

I did really enjoy reading this book, and it really made me think about class bias in our country and how it affects poverty, home ownership, education, and quality of life for so many people.  Other issues examined included the difficulties young adults face buying starter homes;  out-of-control rent (in relation to the percentage of one's income);  exclusionary zoning laws and the ridiculous requirements in neighborhood design.

I also found it fascinating (and horrifying) just how inflated and out of control the housing crisis is in California.  The author describes how "in California, the median price of a single-family home is more than $800,000.  Affordability has become such a crisis that in Milipitas, California, that the school district in 2022 sent a note to parents asking them to allow teachers to move and rent a room."  

One passage that stuck out to me:
"There is often an underlying cultural assumption that people live where they deserve to, as one commentator noted, 'that affluent space is earned and hood living is the deserved consequence of individual behavior'"

Thank you to Netgalley and PublicAffairs for sharing this ARC with me in exchange for my honest review.
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Well Documented Examination Of How Class Is Used To Separate More Than Race In Modern Era. Seriously, this is one of the better documented texts I've read in quite some time, clocking in at about 37% documentation. And given its claims that some might find extraordinary - such as "In a 2014 analysis, one researcher found that the level of segregation between poor Black and affluent Black families was actually greater than that between Black families and White families" - the extraordinary documentation is needed in order to more fully prove the case, which Kahlenberg does quite well indeed here. As Kahlenberg notes early, zoning isn't really something most Americans think about too much unless they happen to buy a piece of property (and how many of us actually do that these days??) and have some issue with the local zoning board. But zoning directly impacts the availability of housing - which is something quite a few Americans are worried about in the early part of the 2020s. Kahlenberg pulls no punches here, and shows how elites - no matter their Party or race - have been using these issues to overcome previous (and wrong and correctly outlawed) race-based barriers. As a white dude who grew up in the 80s and 90s in a trailer park, and whose wife once lived in a duplex - both forms of housing that are routinely being zoned out of existence in more recent years - I've been in and around this all my life, but Kahlenberg finally puts an academic focus on what I've observed "on the street" and shows that the problem is actually far worse than even I had realized. Truly an outstanding work, and one anyone concerned about the housing market or "social justice" needs to read. Very much recommended.
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