Housing is Essential: A Commonsense Paradigm Shift to Solve the Urban Displacement and Racial Injustice Crisis


This article addresses one of the biggest tests of our society: the urban displacement and racial injustice crisis.  Today’s urban displacement crisis has reached a social change tipping point, but most solutions being advanced fail to prevent immediate displacement.  This article debunks the prevailing strategies focused on building more market rate or affordable housing units as being able to effectively prevent displacement.  It examines the impacts of urban displacement on the collective self-interest to advance climate change and racial equity.  Lastly, the article provides an alternative vision for a paradigm shift based upon an understanding that housing is essential to public goods like clean air, clean water, and K-12 education. California and Oakland, California are used as case studies since they are the epicenter of the national housing unaffordability crisis and because of the authors’ work as policy change practitioners designing and implementing anti-displacement solutions in these communities.

About the Authors

Margaretta is an Urban Equity Community Fellow at the Institute for Urban and Regional Development and Principal at the Dellums Institute for Social Justice. She has worked in government, law, community development, racial reconciliation, and youth violence prevention to advance urban equity and racial justice.

Dan is an adjunct professor at the Goldman School for Public Policy and a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Urban and Regional Development. He was the former City Administrator at the City of Oakland.

Minkah is an Urban Equity Student Fellow at the Institute for Urban and Regional Development and a Senior majoring in Society and Environment Studies. Her interest in anti-displacement research stems from her personal experiences with gentrification in her South Central, Los Angeles neighborhood.