Salim Furth Profile picture
Oct 11 26 tweets 12 min read
NEW RESEARCH: @MaryJoWebster and I document that multi-family zoning is strongly correlated with racial integration in the Twin Cities. In parallel, Matt Resseger finds the same in Greater Boston. Here's a brief summarizing & contextualizing both papers.…
@MaryJoWebster @MaryJoWebster and I find that a multifamily-zoned block group in the Twin Cities metro has 21 percentage points more non-White residents than a similarly situated block group zoned single-family only. Image
Matt Resseger's research - this began as his Harvard dissertation 10 years ago - is even better. He's able to use city block boundaries in Greater Boston to show how zoning results in racial variation across the street.…
(More to come - I'm threading between meetings today)
If you know anything about housing and race in the #TwinCities metro, it's that the Black-White homeownership rate gap is the largest in the country. It's mindblowing: Black households making $100k are about as likely to rent as White hh making $20k. Image
That's not an artifact of Minnesota's heavily immigrant Black population. Black-headed households with an immigrant present are slightly likelier to own their dwelling than entirely US-born Black-headed households.
(Also interesting: the poorest Asian immigrant groups in the Twin Cities have high homeownership rates, which is possible because they often have more than 2 earners per household).
So if it's not immigrant status, what is holding back the Twin Cities black population? We found that the Twin Cities has both the largest EXPLAINED and UNEXPLAINED Black-White homeownership gaps. So it's partly obvious things like income & marriage, but also unobservables. Image
Another thing you probably know about the Twin Cities area is that racial covenants excluding non-Whites were commonly used from 1910-1950, as @MapPrejudice showed. (BTW, @mikejcorey helped with our zoning data and now works on the covenant data) Image
@MapPrejudice @mikejcorey @SoodAradhya showed that old covenants correlate to 2010 racial residential patterns. Part of the reason for that finding seems to be that covenanted block groups are much more likely to be zoned single-family only today. Image
We can replicate @SoodAradhya's finding, but we can also put covenants and zoning data into the same regression. We find that zoning is entirely robust & has more explanatory power. Image
@SoodAradhya Another thread in this paper is sussing out some of the impacts of zoning for PUDs and middle housing. PUDs are taking over the growing edge of the Twin Cities metro like kudzu (right, @ElkinsForHouse?), and they include a mix of housing types. Image
As the previous table shows, zones that allow middle housing are quite diverse, with a lot of single-family detached as well as middle and multifamily housing. However, we coded Bloomington's main zone, which technically allows duplexes, as single family. It's too restrictive.
We also looked for evidence that people of different cultures prefer different types of housing. That is, conditional on owning/renting and PUMA of residence, do some races/ethnicities tend toward some housing types? That could explain our topline finding.
In the Twin Cities, we find no statistically significant evidence for typology preferences. But it's noisy data. And nationally, we find that *black owners* and *white renters* each prefer detached homes more. Image
This is a roundabout way to get to the obvious conclusion: there's a straightforward "chain of exclusion" (h/t @rolfpendall): Zoning determines typology; typology is closely linked to tenure; tenure varies systematically by race. Image
We already saw the evidence that zoning determines typology (or is at least super correlated with it) Image
And we can similarly show that there are stark differences in tenure (that is rental/ownership) by typology. Image
Finally, we return to the ownership difference between whites and non-Whites (especially Black households), which is starker in the Twin Cities than anywhere else. Image
For policymakers promoting integration, there's probably long-term value in promoting minority homeownership. But the biggest, most efficient margin for integration is in allowing multifamily housing in all school districts, all neighborhoods. Image
In my contextual policy brief, I discuss three of the possible policy interventions:
1) Middle housing (aka "ending single family zoning")
2) Traditional apartment zoning
3) All-of-the-above zoning…
Ending single family zoning is certainly attractive, and it's been the most celebrated achievement by @MoreNeighbors, @Jacob_Frey, @janneformpls & co. But as many have noted, progress there is slow. And Bloomington's long-term failure to build "allowed" duplexes also tells.
I'm more optimistic about traditional apartment zoning. It's not beautiful, but it does integrate schools, commutes, etc. The old breed of Minnesota zoning reformers, like Myron Orfield, focused here. All locations aren't created equal, of course. Image
Finally - and this is the future market urbanists want - you can have what I call #AllOfTheAbove zoning. When you take a traditional multifamily zone and map it everywhere, it can host a diversity of housing types. Unless prices are extreme, it won't all be built multifamily.
Houston and Tokyo are market urbanist superstar cities because of their #AllOfTheAbove zoning. And @mayorauburn showed that small cities can do the same - create residential zones for all types of residential. ImageImageImage
@mayorauburn Fin! I hope you enjoyed the papers and I'd love to hear your feedback.

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More from @salimfurth

Oct 10
The Columbus/Indigenous People's Day debate is utterly fruitless. Neither of those can be a holiday for all Americans at this point. So you can try to score points for your team, or you can join my longstanding call for #HolidayReform.
(Those graphs are pre-Juneteenth).
My short theory of holidays is that the ones that "work" are those where people can agree on some common set of activities - BBQs, family time, gift exchange, whatever.
In the U.S., our national culture is that we don't do grief or solemnity very well. Only Veterans Day has it; Memorial Day is just too nice-weather to be sad. We're not equipped to do anything constructive with grief- or sorrow-based holidays, so don't bother trying.
Read 10 tweets
Mar 29
How bad can a single paragraph be? Bad enough that @reason shouldn't publish @antiplanner again without a fact check. Let's walk through this:…
@reason @antiplanner "Most New England states abandoned the county level of government,"
This is true of about half of Massachusetts counties. But there wasn't much to New England counties to begin with. In Mass, the counties were formed *after* the towns (in 1643) mostly to handle judicial affairs.
"effectively turning land use regulation of county lands over to the cities."
This is flat wrong. Counties never exercised modern land use regulation. Towns, which have the exact same powers as cities, do that. (Towns and cities differ in governance).
Read 18 tweets
Mar 26, 2021
#YIMBY twitter, you don't want to miss #SB349 - "Increase Housing Opportunities" - introduced today in North Carolina's Senate.
It's a fourplex bill. It's an ADU bill. It's got a @cmsandefur-flavor "no downzoning without cause" component. And it's got one of the biggest changes to a SZEA since Euclid: a jurisdiction may not entirely zone out any use other than industrial, nuisances, and strip clubs.
Let's get into it, shall we?
Read 23 tweets
Dec 22, 2020
The new executive order on designing federal buildings is a good, logical extension of the GSA's longstanding role in making choices about how government should physically build. The criticisms seem to mainly be about anti-Trump mood affiliation.…
First of all, buildings don't just arrive randomly. Somebody has to make choices. Exactly zero (0) people on Twitter were bothered by this before the current administration slightly tweaked that process.
Second, there's an internal contradiction between the claims that "architecture is an important form of artistic expression that communicates our values" and "the Federal gov't shouldn't have a preferred style".
Read 7 tweets
Dec 19, 2020
After I watched @HillbillyElegy, I was puzzled why movie reviewers hate it so much. (It has a 26% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, a level usually reserved for mailed-in sequels). Usually I'm a picky movie-viewer and I tend to agree with the reviewers.…
I even re-read the book - which I first read in 2016 (smartly, before I read any of the 3,000 book reviews). So #inthisessay I'll have some comments about the book as well. Here are a few theses:
(1) The book was better than the movie. To some extent, reviewers might have dunned the movie for failing to capture the tone & feel of the book which is...elegiac.
Read 19 tweets
Sep 10, 2020
You want to transform car-oriented sprawl to a walkable 15-minute city? There's only one place in the US where that's happening on a large scale: Houston. And it's not perfect, of course, but it's diverse (in both buildings & people) and happening in real time.
There are of course other, smaller-scale pockets of transformation. Palisades Park, NJ, is one: side-by-side duplexes have practically taken over the town. High parking minimums force them all to be tuck-unders.
(h/t native son Ed Pinto & @ebwhamilton for research on this)
Ostentatious tuck-under duplexes aren't going to be everyone's favorite style, but they're new & different & unique. If you value local vernaculars, you should welcome these bad boys. (It's also one of the best areas on the East Coast to get Japanese or Korean food...#roadtrip!)
Read 8 tweets

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