Good Neighborhood?

In the words of Adam Smith, “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest”. Smith expresses that self-interest can actually benefit society. However, does self-interest really make society efficient?

This quote makes me think about where to build public housing. Everyone wants to live in a  safe, clean, transit-oriented neighborhood.  Because of self interest, the exclusionary zoning ordinance was implemented to meet the needs of the wealthy; according to this law, low income public housing projects must be built far away from high-income neighborhoods in the city.

Moreover, because most jobs are located in the city center, low-income families who live on the outskirts are forced to spend more time and money traveling to their work places. . Exclusionary zoning separates them from neighborhoods with easy access to public transportation so they spend much more money than they should. This is detrimental to them and to society as a whole.

Lastly, exclusionary zoning make concentrated in certain areas. So, it is very difficult for people in that area to improve their lives. I read some articles. They tell me that very few people managed to move out of poverty-ridden areas and children’s health, education, and long-term economic prospects had a negative correlation with poverty concentration

Contrary to Smith’s beliefs, self-interest may have a negative impact on society, as is the case with exclusionary zoning. Presently, we seldom build affordable housing that is not isolated from the communities. Such a zoning methods is more beneficial for low-income communities in terms of location, quality, and access to transportation.


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