Public policies have long played a central role in creating and perpetuating residential segregation by contributing to disinvestment and neglect in neighborhoods where people of color and lower-income families live and blocking access to well-resourced and opportunity-rich neighborhoods. The cumulative effects of these policy decisions are vividly seen and painfully felt today. Communities of color have been ravaged by the health risks and economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. Because public policies helped create these equity gaps, they can and should close them. This moment provides a critical opening for the federal government to play a more robust role in addressing structural racism and supporting more equitable access to opportunity across neighborhoods, cities, and regions.
In this essay, we introduce the Opportunity for All series and offer a place-conscious framework for federal policies and investments. This framework includes investing in assets in distressed neighborhoods, preventing displacement from neighborhoods face market pressures, and removing exclusionary barriers so people of all races, ethnicities, and income levels can choose the neighborhoods that best meet their needs and allow them to thrive.