Buying in inclusionary neighborhoods

December 19, 2019


The Miriam Webster Dictionary gives this definition of WOKE: aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice).  It goes on to say we have a moral obligation to “stay woke”, take a stand and be active; challenging injustices and racism in our communities and fighting hatred and discrimination wherever it rises.

“Stay Woke” is the mindset of quite a few millenials and baby boomers who are searching out mixed (inclusionary neighborhoods). First of all what exactly is an inclusionary neighborhood (aka mixed neighborhoods). In a few words, they are neighborhoods that are diverse in mix of peoples and income levels.  City Observatory defines inclusionary neighborhoods as: both diverse (having a mix of people from different racial and ethnic groups) and inclusive (composed of people from many different income groups). …we mean “diversity” in the strictest sense of the word: not as a synonym for “people of color” or any non-majority racial/ethnic group. A neighborhood that is composed entirely or predominantly of people from one racial or ethnic group is not “diverse,” whether the majority population is black, white or Latino. Similarly, we define a mixed income neighborhood as one with households from a variety of different income groups. Source:  City Observatory

Buying in an inclusionary neighborhood is on the nationwide spectrum of  positive return for buyers in dollars as well as quality of life and giving back to your community.  Recent in-depth studies are indicating that living in an inclusionary neighborhood is providing payoffs for families of all socio/economic and ethnic backgrounds.
Cutting to the bottom line, what exactly does buying in a mixed/inclusionary neighborhood mean to you and your quality of life.   Findings of a study by City Observatory claim:

  • integration gives more people better connections to jobs schools and civic resources
  • integration is important from a fiscal perspective as it defrays the high costs to a city from the financial burdens of segregation
  • it was found that socioeconomically mixed neighborhoods create opportunities for interactions between diverse cultures and diverse communities have a higher level of civic cohesion
  • children who grew up in inclusionary neighborhoods were more likely to earn more than their parents

Joe Cortright, president of City Observatory, points to Raj Chetty and his colleagues at Opportunity Insights for their important research findings on inclusionary neighborhoods. For more information on their findings go the The Opportunity Atlas to explore data on specific cities across the United States.
Map from City Observatory showing America’s most diverse mixed income neighborhoods.

Just as it’s foolish to wait until a stock peaks before buying it, it can be foolish to wait until a neighborhood is established before looking to buy property. Aside from the benefits of buying when a market is low and reaping the financial benefits associated with living in a cheap neighborhood, living in a transitional area means having more free time, a healthier life and a neighborhood that is culturally diverse.

Follow these three tips if you are considering buying in a mixed neighborhood:

  1. Understand inclusionary neighborhoods and their impact on a city and on you and your family
  2. Search out lenders and agents to guide you when buying in an inclusionary neighborhood
  3. Identify inclusionary neighborhoods in your city

Buying in an inclusionary neighborhood has some risks.   One is finding a lender and an agent who know the ropes.  (Coming soon will be an article about the importance of your lender and your agent when buying in an inclusionary neighborhood).  Another is that, generally speaking, homes in these types of neighborhoods will need a lot of repairs.  Another is that your insurance rates may be higher.  US Mortgage Calculator

I practice what I preach.  As an adult, I have never bought in anything but an inclusionary neighborhood and that is by design.  I currently live in Skinker-DeBaliviere.  This neighborhood has professors (close to WashU), owners who have lived here and owned since the 1970’s, students and young professionals.  We are close to 2 metro stops, can walk to United Provisions for groceries and the Delmar Loop for restaurants and entertainment.  Best of all I live right down the street from Joe’s cafe.

Inclusionary Zoning
City of Chicago’s Affordable Requirments Ordinance

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