Inclusive Housing: Racial and Class Diversity in Urban Communities

In recent decades, governments at the local, state and federal levels have poured billions of dollars into community development. Major initiatives have included the construction of public housing, the demolition and redevelopment of that public housing and, most recently, the expansion of tax credit-funded low-income housing. Although the broader needs of low-income populations have received some attention, the primary focus of policy has fallen on providing access to affordable housing. Despite decades of effort and investment, income inequality and income segregation continue to grow, and areas of concentrated poverty are again on the rise.  

​How can policies be reformed or overhauled to build a more equitable and inclusive society? How can communities engage collectively to implement an anti-segregation agenda? The Center for Social Development's work in inclusive housing seeks to tackle these​ major challenges of the 21 century.

National conference

Assistant Professor Molly Metzger and Executive Vice Chancellor Hank Webber organized "Inclusive Housing: Symposium for Policy Action." The October 2015 conference is leading to a book, setting the stage for a program of applied research and policy innovation.

To see the event program, please click here.

To read about and watch portions of the public part of the conference, “Inclusive Housing: A Public Forum for Policy Action in St. Louis," please click here.

​Warning that “we are going to see many more Fergusons in this country,” Richard Rothstein, a national expert on education, race and ethnicity, recounted the history of government’s role in racial segregation, in a video created for the public forum.  To read more, please click here.

Local policy

Metzger's 2014 policy brief​, based on her peer-reviewed research in Housing Policy Debate, has served as the basis for two pieces of legislation introduced by a St. Louis city alderwoman: Board Bills 235 and 260.  These bills would respectively repeal a series of  “special inspections” for Section 8 properties, which serve as a deterrent to landlord participation in the Section 8 program, and provide fair housing protections for Section 8 renters. The ultimate goal of the legislation is to broaden the range of housing opportunities available to Section 8 renters, who currently reside overwhelmingly in high-poverty communities.​

Community-based teaching

Another aspect of Inclusive Housing is The Listening Project, an initiative of St. Louis’ Forest Park Southeast Neighborhood Association in partnership with the Brown School of Social Work and the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts at Washington University. The project engaged underrepresented voices in the neighborhood to identify priorities for community improvement. An extension of this project, expanding the focus to Forest Park Southeast, Botanical Heights, Tiffany and Shaw neighborhoods, is explained in the report "The Right to Stay Put."

​Faculty Directors


Molly W. Metzger


Patrick Fowler