The history of planning and housing in the United States and its violence towards communities of colour has played out in so many ways. From red-lining to restrictive covenants and from segregated public housing to deliberately segregated city plans, the Federal Government, financial institutions and planners have all promoted and facilitated a system that has ripped apart cities and communities across America.
There is perhaps no better city to use as a case study than Detroit, which has featured heavily in the works by authors like June Manning Thomas, Margaret Dewer and numerous other scholars and urbanists. In this short film we hear Dekonti Mends Cole, formerly the Deputy Director of the Detroit Land Bank Authority, talk about the aftermath of the last financial crisis and its uneven geographic and human impacts on the city. She reminds us that “Housing is civil rights work” showing how profoundly disinvestment in communities of colour grew into pernicious, intergenerational financial inequality with White households having amassed ten times more wealth than their Black counterparts.
Drawing on her work as a planning and housing specialist and her role with the Detroit land bank, Dekonti leaves us with a call to planners to understand that diverse communities need to be at the centre of their own revitalisation and be positioned to benefit from the wider prosperity this brings in cities.