None of the problems that contribute to widespread racial and socioeconomic inequities in Rochester exist in a vacuum.
So it is no surprise that the lack of quality, affordable housing in the region is exacerbated by one problem (high rates of city unemployment) and, in turn, contributes mightily to others (poor academic performance among city students and the utterly high degree of segregation of the county).
Tackling persistent disparities in housing thus touches on issues affecting Rochester’s economically disadvantaged residents across the board.
Unite Rochester: Our biggest stories from 2013
Jim Lawrence: Rochester’s caring must translate into action
Housing discrimination was outlawed by the 1968 Fair Housing Act but, as is often the case when it comes to civil rights, practices made illegal on the books live on in less-blatant ways. The result: A recent analysis by the Rochester Area Community Foundation found Rochester’s poorest residents more heavily clustered than almost anywhere else in the country, with 47 percent of city residents living in neighborhoods of extreme poverty.
The Rochester Housing Authority has rightly made increasing its inventory of properties a top priority.
Now, more elected leaders must step up to encourage and welcome more affordable housing in their communities, as Gates Supervisor Mark Assini has done.
And national leaders must shore up federal Section 8 housing voucher funds, which have been repeatedly slashed over the past five years.
And, of course, more living-wage jobs in the region would provide more opportunity for the unemployed to seek better housing.
Poverty has chained too many Rochester residents to a life of hardship. The housing link of this chain must be broken.