Also: The library’s hidden bias, and the perfect price for transportation.

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What We’re Following

Rent-sploitation: Do the poor pay more for housing? We already know that low-income households often have higher levels of rent burden, and a new paper by Princeton’s Matthew Desmond and Nathan Wilmers tracks how landlords profit more from properties rented to people in poorer neighborhoods. In fact, they argue, low-quality housing has long been a “prime moneymaker,” with land scarcity, racial segregation, and deferred maintenance offering a chance to profit.

Desmond and Wilmers find that renters in high-poverty neighborhoods experience levels of exploitation that are more than double those of renters in neighborhoods with lower levels of poverty. Essentially, lower-income renters pay more relative to the market value of their housing, handing over the actual value of their housing quicker than renters in more affluent areas. CityLab’s Richard Florida takes a look at the latest research: Why the Poor Effectively Pay More for Housing

Andrew Small


More on CityLab

The Bias Hiding in Your Library

The ways libraries classify books often reflect a “straight white American man” assumption.

Amanda Ros

Is Our Green Future Battery-Powered Cities?

In episode 4 of the CityLab podcast Technopolis, we consider how energy storage could change everything about how we turn on the lights and get around town.

Molly Turner and Jim Kapsis

How Havana's Street Artists Are Adapting to a Rise In Censorship

Threatened by authorities, Cuban street artists are finding resourceful ways to continue their work.

Deni Ellis Béchard

Unpacking Tel Aviv’s White City

If Tel Aviv’s history is a story of sanctuary and self-isolation, then its buildings designed in the Bauhaus style are monuments to just that.

Ariel Aberg-Riger

What's the Perfect Price for Public Transportation?

As ridership tanks, New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority is hiking fares. Does that ever work? Experts sound off on how to price the bus and subway fairly.

John Surico


Euro Files

Joachim Hermann/Reuters

The rent is too damn high on the other side of the pond, too, and European cities are showing an increasing will to do something about it. If you’ve been following CityLab contributor Feargus O’Sullivan’s reporting recently, you may have noticed something of a housing revolution taking shape as cities and housing advocates search for new ways to fight rising rents.

In Berlin, for example, large corporate landlords are in the crosshairs as the city considers banning anyone from owning more than 3,000 units. Barcelona, meanwhile, is levying fines on two investors who own buildings that have sat vacant for years during a housing shortage. And Amsterdam is proposing a new plan that would make sure newly built housing is only sold to owner-occupiers, blocking out purchasers who want to rent them out.

Feargus writes that two facts emerge when you consider these housing actions together: “The scope of Europe’s urban housing squeeze extends far beyond people on low incomes, and that as more people struggle to find affordable accommodations, cities’ mandate to intervene and regulate the market is likely to grow ever stronger.” Catch up with his reporting:


What We’re Reading

The Green New Deal aims to get buildings off fossil fuels. These 6 places have already started. (Vox)

There is no reason to cross the U.S. by train—but I did it anyway (New York Times Magazine)

How a San Diego YIMBY club changed city politics (Curbed)

Why would a Trump Tower in Moscow need the Kremlin's help? Possibly zoning (ProPublica)

I rode a scooter as far from civilization as its batteries could take me (Gizmodo)


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