It’s no secret that Americans live in divided spaces. The country’s cities and suburbs are segregated by race and socioeconomic status. These divides are often assumed to be a result of economics — as poor and rich families alike pick neighborhoods they can afford — and of personal choice, as Americans seek to live near people with whom they have more in common.
There’s a more sinister force at work, however. In many places, economic and racial segregation goes beyond market forces or personal choices. That segregation is buttressed by local laws and ordinances that effectively exclude or discourage poor and working-class people from moving into certain communities, keeping those areas primarily the domain of the white and wealthy.