Stop OZ Fantasies. Replace Yellow Brick Road With Equitable Housing Infrastructure

wooden trolley bus
Portland Vintage Trolley photo by Steve Morgan is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
Discrimination in the design of transit systems extends as far back as the era when this trolley was state of the art.

The Wizard of Oz musical was short on housing details, but long on vital housing infrastructure. The yellow brick road carried everyone from their dwelling (admittedly not highly featured in the musical) to the City of Oz.

In America, real-world roads as well as other means of conveyance perform similar functions — an infrastructure that transports citizens from their shelter to other locations of vital importance such as employment.

Unfortunately, planning and constructing transportation infrastructure has been anything but equitable. Yes indeed, it has provided enormous convenience and cost saving to the middle class commute from suburbs to the big city. But transportation construction has at best only accidentally supported the infrastructure of its underclasses, particularly black communities. Those needs have not resonated with urban planners and their council bosses.

Today, “infrastructure” is being viewed as a racial justice issue. The City of Portland, Oregon would like to actively address the problem by building new, equitable transportation. Unfortunately, with the proposed costs to be borne by a business tax, Portland is having trouble convincing big business to put their money where their mouth is.

Read more in Bloomberg CityLab: To Lift Up Communities of Color, Fix Public Transit

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