The Housing Mixtape: Madison, WI       

November 17, 2021 Rotary Guest Speaker

–submitted by Ellsworth Brown

Justice Castaneda a man on a mission, delivered a distillation of his academic work with the passion and intensity of a community advocate.  He cares deeply about Madison, a city in which he was raised and moved many times before concluding his teenage years.  Castaneda knows intimately the challenges that caused and perpetuate the strictures of redlining, covenants and zoning.  He concluded his presentation with a summary that gives this complex subject a frame:

  • Contemporary housing patterns are limited by historical and contemporary land use policies and practices that contribute significantly to housing volatility, absence of strong community ties, and family cohesiveness.
  • Volatility in housing tenure—sometimes 50% turnover a year—is an undercurrent in pathological associations with concentrated poverty.  For example, affordability of land available for development in Madison is limited to former redline sections that are depressed and underserved, formerly redline sections of the city.  Purchase of this lower-priced land for economic development often removes the availability of affordable housing.
  • Impediments in access to democratic processes and institutions are detrimental to collective efficacy.
  • The structure of local governments, their deliberate pace extending through two or three administrations, limits the use of long-term mitigation strategies.

Castaneda added that the absence in Madison of viable, efficient transportation routes between neighborhoods, services and sources of employment in historically redlined, covenant restricted areas continues to contribute to ongoing volatility of housing.

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