Anchoring Communities in Solid Ground

By: Joseph Romero   Jason Matzke  

In the United States and, increasingly, worldwide, civic leaders are working to coordinate education, medical, business, and arts institutions (among others) to partner with local governments and community partners to transform cities that face severe challenges to social and economic advancement. Priorities frequently include hiring and purchasing initiatives to offer disadvantaged communities opportunities to win and keep stable jobs and develop small businesses. A tertiary priority is not infrequently housing, which has lagged behind the others for reasons which we wish to explore in this paper. And yet providing affordable housing to low-income people has the greatest potential to address what we consider the root barrier to diversity: while not discounting the value of raising all sails with the rising tide of economic opportunity, we argue that the true cause of monoculture where diversity is an option is not asymmetrical economic realities but racial or ethnic antipathy-antipathies not infrequently managed by segregation. To combat this, we contend, societies must adopt policies that incentivize and, where necessary, require people of different income levels to live in the same desirable locations. If further policies assuring equitable distribution of that housing by various affinity groups are adopted and enforced, within a few generations, we propose, a critical nexus of communities can model the way for how people of different races, ethnicities, and classes can live side-by-side. The result may not be utopian, but any society would be only too lucky to confront problems of health and well-being rather than insistent tribalism.

anchor institutions, housing
Community Diversity and Governance
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Joseph Romero

Professor of Classics, Classics, Philosophy, & Religion, University of Mary Washington, United States
United States

Graduating from Mary Washington College (Virginia) with a bachelor's degree in Latin and from Duke University with a Ph.D. in Classical Studies, in my scholarly work I have studied Greek and Latin poetry of the Hellenistic era, semiotics, and higher education. Recently, I was an American Council on Education fellow with placements at San Francisco State University and Rutgers University-Newark, where my focus was on "anchor institutions" as the hub of partnerships for organizing collective action to address regional social and economic challenges.

Jason Matzke

Professor of Philosophy, University of Mary Washington, United States
United States