Millions of people have been systemically held back through redlining, gentrification, slavery, and reservations. It can be difficult to see how centuries of policies and practices play into our current reality, but these are facts we cannot ignore. Providing citizens of Norfolk, and Virginia, with with support to ensure they are economically secure should be of highest priority. We need to ensure that people have affordable housing, protection and programming to avoid eviction, and ensure that affordable housing is located near amenities and resources.
Racial segregation is part of this ongoing cycle of inequality. Segregation in housing, especially through economic means, deprive people of access to important resources such as healthy food, quality schools, and outdoor green space. Racial segregation in housing also leads to limited social relationships, which limit the ability of people in those communities from upward mobility and networking. This all creates a wealth gap and generational poverty, making it nearly impossible to break the cycle of poverty for many people. For this reason, Norfolk has one of the highest eviction rates in the country and 30% of all black people living in Norfolk live below the poverty line. As an example of how this has generational impacts, when the Ghent neighborhood went through gentrification, and thus racial segregation, many black families were pushed out of Ghent and into public housing communities like Tidewater Gardens. Today, the median household income for families in Ghent is 7x higher than the families in Tidewater Gardens (nearly $90,000 compared to under $20,000). This problem is not unique to Norfolk, but it is certainly a prominent and immediate problem we must address with compassion and urgency.
Learn more about gentrification and economic racial segregation in Norfolk, as well as the facts mentioned above, here.