Climbing Mount Laurel: The Struggle for Affordable Housing and Social Mobility in an American Suburb

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Under the New Jersey State Constitution as interpreted by the State Supreme Court in 1975 and 1983, municipalities are required to use their zoning authority to create realistic opportunities for a fair share of affordable housing for low- and moderate-income households. Mount Laurel was the town at the center of the court decisions. As a result, Mount Laurel has become synonymous with the debate over affordable housing policy designed to create economically integrated communities. What was the impact of the Mount Laurel decision on those most affected by it? What does the case tell us about economic inequality?

Climbing Mount Laurel undertakes a systematic evaluation of the Ethel Lawrence Homes--a housing development produced as a result of the Mount Laurel decision. Douglas Massey and his colleagues assess the consequences for the surrounding neighborhoods and their inhabitants, the township of Mount Laurel, and the residents of the Ethel Lawrence Homes. Their analysis reveals what social scientists call neighborhood effects--the notion that neighborhoods can shape the life trajectories of their inhabitants. Climbing Mount Laurel proves that the building of affordable housing projects is an efficacious, cost-effective approach to integration and improving the lives of the poor, with reasonable cost and no drawbacks for the community at large.

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About the author

Douglas S. Massey is the Henry G. Bryant Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs at Princeton University and director of its Office of Population Research. Len Albright is assistant professor of sociology at Northeastern University. Rebecca Casciano is the CEO of Rebecca Casciano, LLC. Elizabeth Derickson is a doctoral candidate in sociology at Princeton University. David N. Kinsey is lecturer of public and international affairs at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School and a partner in the planning consulting firm Kinsey & Hand.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Jul 21, 2013
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Pages
288
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ISBN
9781400846047
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Language
English
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Genres
History / United States / State & Local / Middle Atlantic (DC, DE, MD, NJ, NY, PA)
Law / Housing & Urban Development
Political Science / General
Political Science / History & Theory
Social Science / General
Social Science / Poverty & Homelessness
Social Science / Sociology / General
Social Science / Sociology / Urban
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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The United States holds the dubious distinction of having the most unequal income distribution of any advanced industrialized nation. While other developed countries face similar challenges from globalization and technological change, none rivals America's singularly poor record for equitably distributing the benefits and burdens of recent economic shifts. In Categorically Unequal, Douglas Massey weaves together history, political economy, and even neuropsychology to provide a comprehensive explanation of how America's culture and political system perpetuates inequalities between different segments of the population. Categorically Unequal is striking both for its theoretical originality and for the breadth of topics it covers. Massey argues that social inequalities arise from the universal human tendency to place others into social categories. In America, ethnic minorities, women, and the poor have consistently been the targets of stereotyping, and as a result, they have been exploited and discriminated against throughout the nation's history. African-Americans continue to face discrimination in markets for jobs, housing, and credit. Meanwhile, the militarization of the U.S.-Mexican border has discouraged Mexican migrants from leaving the United States, creating a pool of exploitable workers who lack the legal rights of citizens. Massey also shows that women's advances in the labor market have been concentrated among the affluent and well-educated, while low-skilled female workers have been relegated to occupations that offer few chances for earnings mobility. At the same time, as the wages of low-income men have fallen, more working-class women are remaining unmarried and raising children on their own. Even as minorities and women continue to face these obstacles, the progressive legacy of the New Deal has come under frontal assault. The government has passed anti-union legislation, made taxes more regressive, allowed the real value of the federal minimum wage to decline, and drastically cut social welfare spending. As a result, the income gap between the richest and poorest has dramatically widened since 1980. Massey attributes these anti-poor policies in part to the increasing segregation of neighborhoods by income, which has insulated the affluent from the social consequences of poverty, and to the disenfranchisement of the poor, as the population of immigrants, prisoners, and ex-felons swells. America's unrivaled disparities are not simply the inevitable result of globalization and technological change. As Massey shows, privileged groups have systematically exploited and excluded many of their fellow Americans. By delving into the root causes of inequality in America, Categorically Unequal provides a compelling argument for the creation of a more equitable society. A Volume in the Russell Sage Foundation's Centennial Series
Beginning in the 1990s, immigrants to the United States increasingly bypassed traditional gateway cites such as Los Angeles and New York to settle in smaller towns and cities throughout the nation. With immigrant communities popping up in so many new places, questions about ethnic diversity and immigrant assimilation confront more and more Americans. New Faces in New Places, edited by distinguished sociologist Douglas Massey, explores today's geography of immigration and examines the ways in which native-born Americans are dealing with their new neighbors. Using the latest census data and other population surveys, New Faces in New Places examines the causes and consequences of the shift toward new immigrant destinations. Contributors Mark Leach and Frank Bean examine the growing demand for low-wage labor and lower housing costs that have attracted many immigrants to move beyond the larger cities. Katharine Donato, Charles Tolbert, Alfred Nucci, and Yukio Kawano report that the majority of Mexican immigrants are no longer single male workers but entire families, who are settling in small towns and creating a surge among some rural populations long in decline. Katherine Fennelly shows how opinions about the growing immigrant population in a small Minnesota town are divided along socioeconomic lines among the local inhabitants. The town's leadership and professional elites focus on immigrant contributions to the economic development and the diversification of the community, while working class residents fear new immigrants will bring crime and an increased tax burden to their communities. Helen Marrow reports that many African Americans in the rural south object to Hispanic immigrants benefiting from affirmative action even though they have just arrived in the United States and never experienced historical discrimination. As Douglas Massey argues in his conclusion, many of the towns profiled in this volume are not equipped with the social and economic institutions to help assimilate new immigrants that are available in the traditional immigrant gateways of New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. And the continual replenishment of the flow of immigrants may adversely affect the nation's perception of how today's newcomers are assimilating relative to previous waves of immigrants. New Faces in New Places illustrates the many ways that communities across the nation are reacting to the arrival of immigrant newcomers, and suggests that patterns and processes of assimilation in the twenty-first century may be quite different from those of the past. Enriched by perspectives from sociology, anthropology, and geography New Faces in New Places is essential reading for scholars of immigration and all those interested in learning the facts about new faces in new places in America.
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER, NAMED BY THE TIMES AS ONE OF "6 BOOKS TO HELP UNDERSTAND TRUMP'S WIN" AND SOON TO BE A MAJOR-MOTION PICTURE DIRECTED BY RON HOWARD

"You will not read a more important book about America this year."—The Economist

"A riveting book."—The Wall Street Journal

"Essential reading."—David Brooks, New York Times

Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis—that of white working-class Americans. The disintegration of this group, a process that has been slowly occurring now for more than forty years, has been reported with growing frequency and alarm, but has never before been written about as searingly from the inside. J. D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck.

The Vance family story begins hopefully in postwar America. J. D.’s grandparents were “dirt poor and in love,” and moved north from Kentucky’s Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. They raised a middle-class family, and eventually one of their grandchildren would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of success in achieving generational upward mobility. But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that J.D.'s grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, never fully escaping the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. With piercing honesty, Vance shows how he himself still carries around the demons of his chaotic family history.

A deeply moving memoir, with its share of humor and vividly colorful figures, Hillbilly Elegy is the story of how upward mobility really feels. And it is an urgent and troubling meditation on the loss of the American dream for a large segment of this country.

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