The Rent Is Too Damn High For African-Americans


John Sullivan at Colorlines writes about census data showing net African-American migration to the South:

For decades, major cities in the Northeast, Midwest and West have suffered from de-industrialization and the associated job loss, residential segregation, infrastructure decay and cost-of-living increases. The impact of these changes have been especially strong in black communities. Before the 2008 recession even began, the black populations of many big Midwestern cities had double-digit unemployment. “Folks are moving here for the lower cost of living,” says Sendolo Diaminah, who recently moved from New York to North Carolina and founded the community organization People’s Durham. “Some had family who were here. There are tons from New York. Some wanted to get their kids out of a situation of violence and drugs.”

A couple of points to make about this:

One is that African-American population migration patterns don’t, as I read them, differ substantially from white migration patterns. People find the “black people moving to the South!” angle interesting, but net domestic migration for all races is heading toward this region.

The second point is that you probably can’t tell a single coherent story about this. African-Americans are leaving the Detroit municipality and they’re also leaving the District of Columbia, but not for the same reason. People leave Detroit because living conditions are so bad. People leave DC because living conditions are improving, and we’re not building enough new housing to keep up with the increased demand. Both low quality of life and low availability of affordable housing are problems that should concern us, but they’re different problems — in some ways they’re opposites — and trying to knit them together into a single narrative is going to confuse people.