A Response to David Imbroscio: Neighborhoods Matter, and Efforts to Integrate Them Are Not Futile

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review


Imbroscio questions both the significance of opportunity hoarding as a driver of inequality and the feasibility of stopping or moderating the phenomenon. But research shows clearly that both neighborhoods and schools are important contributors to inequality. As for futility, his claim that efforts to address exclusionary zoning will necessarily be thwarted by the flight of the affluent is simply not supported by evidence. In a perfectly integrated U.S., all neighborhoods would be about 12% poor. There is little evidence that poverty rates at this level will trigger flight of nonpoor households. As for his contention that community investments will only fuel dispossession, attracting some higher income residents doesn’t necessarily lead to wholesale resegregation. More fundamentally, Imbroscio’s pairing of these claims (the insignificance of opportunity hoarding on the one hand and the futility of addressing it on the other) begs the question: If opportunity hoarding is unimportant as a driver of inequality, then why is it so difficult to stop it? Why do wealthy, white households insist on living in wealthy enclaves if neighborhood resources matter so little in sustaining their privilege? Finally, as for political infeasibility, it’s hard to believe that the road to tackling exclusionary zoning is more difficult than the road to employee-owned business and worker cooperatives. And, ultimately, it’s not clear why advocates can’t work toward greater spatial equity while also pushing for structural reforms in the labor market.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)789-792
JournalHousing Policy Debate
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2023


  • community development
  • gentrification
  • integration
  • Neighborhoods

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Urban Studies
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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