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Facing the issue of racial discrimination in housing

Congratulations on the Globe Spotlight series confronting Boston’s race issues (“Boston. Racism. Image. Reality.,” Page A1, Dec. 10-16). However, the series did not fully address the systematic zoning and housing discrimination that turned us into one of the most racially segregated regions in the country — and which is largely responsible for the stunning wealth gap between black and white residents.

Local, state, and federal rules prevented African-Americans from financing or owning homes in most communities after World War II, when home prices were affordable. As a result, black families lost the opportunity to build the wealth that middle-class white families built through home equity.


These practices continue today in new forms. Restrictive zoning laws throughout Massachusetts limit apartments, small single-family homes, and other kinds of family housing. With only high-priced homes for sale in many communities with good schools and jobs, we limit the choices of African-Americans and reinforce existing housing segregation.

I urge the editors to undertake a follow-up Spotlight series to address these challenges and possible solutions. I also urge strong support for the Great Neighborhoods bill (H.2420/S.81) to reform zoning at the state level and make Massachusetts communities more inclusive.

Bob Van Meter

Executive Director, LISC Boston