YIMBY Dispatches
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YIMBY Dispatches

Michael Lens on Making Urbanism Antiracist

Bridging the Gap Between Academia and the Planning Department

  • Why a paper like “It’s Time to End Single-Family Zoning” is a bit of a “post-tenure luxury” in an academic setting (7:40)
  • His start in policy as someone interested primarily in poverty, and how that led to an interest in housing (10:00)
  • The ideal of exchanging information between academia and the policy world, and why it doesn’t always work out (14:40)
  • How he modulates his housing message depending on the audience when working with policymakers (17:50)
  • Why the American myth of the level playing field is an important tool to get white folks to recognize inequities in their neighborhoods (29:40)
  • The tensions between YIMBYs and tenants organizations around the best solutions for displacement and what “the easy answer” is (hint: it’s not actually easy) (31:25)
  • The difficulties of modeling high opportunity areas and communities of concern in legislation such as California’s SB50, and how data may not always match our qualitative instincts (37:50)
  • His family background, and how his trajectory from benefiting from section 8 vouchers as a kid to being a professor as an adult reminds him why he does the work (39:30)
  • Why the home ownership gap for the last 70 years is one of the best arguments for reparations (48:50)
  • Whether single-family zoning is inherently racist (50:05)
  • How we can integrate neighborhoods while protecting people of color (55:00)
The discussion with Michael Lens was proudly cohosted by YIMBY Action, YIMBY Law, and Abundant Housing LA.
Tune in on Tuesday, August 11th



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