Economic Policy Review
The Promises and Perils of Racial Equity Planning
Volume 29, Number 2
October 2023

JEL classification: J15, O18, R31

Author: Lance Freeman

This article considers the use of racial equity analysis, or racial equity planning, as a tool to remedy the inequality that has been structured into the built environment through past and ongoing discriminatory and racially insensitive land use regulations and planning. It describes the history of land use planning in the United States, the resulting legacy of exclusionary practices, and the need to explicitly address racial inequities in American cities by considering the impacts of large-scale planning projects. As an illustration, the author describes a racial disparity report that studied the likely effects of a proposed development in the Gowanus neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y. The article also discusses the promise, limitations, and possible unintended consequences of racial equity planning, including NIMBYism and the use of studies to thwart development generally.

Full Article
Lance Freeman, Ph.D.
The author declares that he has no relevant or material financial interests that relate to the research described in this article. The author was retained by a community organization, the Fifth Avenue Committee, to develop the methodology for, and to undertake, the Gowanus racial equity study described in the article.
Suggested Citation:
Freeman, Lance. 2023. “The Promises and Perils of Racial Equity Planning.” Federal Reserve Bank of New York Economic Policy Review 29, no. 2, October.

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