Fix­ing The New Ur­ban Cri­sis: Richard Florida

Our cities are fail­ing the mid­dle class, in­creas­ing in­equal­ity and deep­en­ing seg­re­ga­tion. Here’s what to do about it.

Rotman Management Magazine - - FRONT PAGE - by Richard Florida

TO­DAY’S UR­BAN CRI­SIS is not the first we have faced, but it bears lit­tle re­sem­blance to its pre­de­ces­sor. The cri­sis of the 1960s and 70s was de­fined by the eco­nomic aban­don­ment of U.S. cities. Shaped by dein­dus­tri­al­iza­tion and ‘white flight’, many cities lost their core in­dus­tries and be­came sites of grow­ing and per­sis­tent poverty. Hous­ing de­cayed; crime and vi­o­lence in­creased; and so­cial prob­lems es­ca­lated — many of which re­main with us to this day.

What I see as ‘the New Ur­ban Cri­sis’ is more all-en­com­pass­ing. Although two of its core fea­tures — mount­ing in­equal­ity and ris­ing hous­ing prices — are most of­ten dis­cussed in re­la­tion to ur­ban cen­tres such as New York, Lon­don and Toronto, the cri­sis also hits hard at small and mid-sized cities, and its other core fea­tures — eco­nomic and racial seg­re­ga­tion, spa­tial in­equal­ity, en­trenched poverty — are be­com­ing as com­mon in the suburbs as they are in the cities.

Seen in this light, the New Ur­ban Cri­sis is a cri­sis of ur­ban­iza­tion it­self, and of con­tem­po­rary cap­i­tal­ism writ large. For the past six years, I have mar­ried my long-held in­ter­est in ur­ban eco- nomic de­vel­op­ment with the in­sights of ur­ban so­ci­ol­o­gists on the cor­ro­sive ef­fects of con­cen­trated poverty, map­ping the deep new di­vides that iso­late the classes and trac­ing the growth of eco­nomic dis­ad­van­tage in the suburbs. In this ex­cerpt from my lat­est book, I will present a few of my key find­ings.

Five Di­men­sions of the Cri­sis

As my col­leagues and I have come to un­der­stand it, the New Ur­ban Cri­sis en­com­passes five key di­men­sions:

GROW­ING GAPS CRE­ATED BY SU­PER STAR CITIES. The first is the deep and grow­ing eco­nomic gap be­tween a small num­ber of su­per­star cities, such as New York, Lon­don, Hong Kong, Los An­ge­les and Toronto, along with lead­ing tech­nol­ogy and knowl­edge hubs, such as the San Fran­cisco Bay Area, Wash­ing­ton DC, Bos­ton, Seat­tle, and other cities around the world. These su­per­star lo­ca­tions have wildly dis­pro­por­tion­ate shares of the world’s lead­ing high-value in­dus­tries, high-tech in­no­va­tion, star­tups and top tal­ent.

Cit­i­zens of su­per­star THE CRI­SIS OF SUC­CESS IN SU­PER­STAR CITIES. cities face in­creas­ingly un­af­ford­able hous­ing and stag­ger­ing lev­els of in­equal­ity. In these places, mere gen­tri­fi­ca­tion has es­ca­lated into what some have called ‘plu­to­c­ra­ti­za­tion’. It’s not just mu­si­cians, artists and cre­atives who are be­ing pushed out: Grow­ing num­bers of eco­nom­i­cally-ad­van­taged knowl­edge work­ers are see­ing their money eaten up by high hous­ing prices and now fear that their own chil­dren will never own a home. But it is the blue-col­lar and ser­vice work­ers, along with the poor and dis­ad­van­taged, who face the direst eco­nomic con­se­quences. Both groups are be­ing de­nied the op­por­tu­ni­ties and up­ward mo­bil­ity that these cities have to of­fer.

This is tak­ing place within GROW­ING IN­EQUAL­ITY AND SEG­RE­GA­TION. vir­tu­ally ev­ery city and metro area — win­ners and losers alike. The New Ur­ban Cri­sis is marked by ‘the dis­ap­pear­ing mid­dle’ — the fad­ing of the once large mid­dle class and its once-sta­ble neigh­bour­hoods. From 1970 to 2012, the share of fam­i­lies liv­ing in mid­dle-class neigh­bour­hoods de­clined from 65 to 40 per cent, while the share liv­ing in ei­ther poor or af­flu­ent neigh­bour­hoods grew sub­stan­tially. As the mid­dle has been hol­lowed out, neigh­bour­hoods are di­vid­ing into large ar­eas of con­cen­trated dis­ad­van­tage and much smaller ar­eas of con­cen­trated af­flu­ence.

Poverty, in­se­cu­rity and THE BURGEONING CRI­SIS OF THE SUBURBS. crime are mount­ing in the suburbs, and eco­nomic and racial seg­re­ga­tion are grow­ing deeper. In the U.S. to­day, there are more poor peo­ple in the suburbs than there are in cities — 17 mil­lion ver­sus 13.5 mil­lion. And the ranks of the sub­ur­ban poor are grow­ing much faster, by a stag­ger­ing 66 per cent be­tween 2000 and 2013, com­pared to 29 per cent in ur­ban ar­eas. Some of this sub­ur­ban poverty is be­ing im­ported from the cities as dis­placed fam­i­lies seek more af­ford­able places to live. But much of it is also home­grown: More and more peo­ple who were once mem­bers of the mid­dle class have fallen out of it, as a re­sult of job loss or ris­ing hous­ing prices.

THE CRI­SIS OF UR­BAN­IZA­TION IN THE DE­VEL­OP­ING WORLD. Ur­ban op­ti­mists be­lieve that ur­ban­iza­tion will ul­ti­mately bring eco­nomic growth, ris­ing liv­ing stan­dards and a grow­ing mid­dle class to the de­vel­op­ing world, just like it did for the U.S., Canada, Europe and more re­cently, China. Cities, af­ter all, have his­tor­i­cally driven the de­vel­op­ment of na­tional economies. But we are see­ing the rise of a trou­bling phe­nom­e­non of ‘ur­ban­iza­tion with­out growth’, in which peo­ple pour into rapidly-ur­ban­iz­ing ar­eas of the de­vel­op­ing world, but see lit­tle to no im­prove­ment in their liv­ing stan­dards. More than 800 mil­lion peo­ple cur­rently live in sub­stan­dard con­di­tions, and their num­bers will con­tinue to grow as the world’s ur­ban pop­u­la­tion surges.

The Global Clus­ter­ing Con­tra­dic­tion

The New Ur­ban Cri­sis is shaped by the fun­da­men­tal con­tra­dic­tion brought on by ‘ur­ban clus­ter­ing’. On the one hand, it is no longer nat­u­ral re­sources or even large cor­po­ra­tions driv­ing eco­nomic progress, but the abil­ity of cities to clus­ter and con­cen­trate tal­ented peo­ple, en­abling them to com­bine and re­com­bine their ideas and ef­forts, which mas­sively in­creases in­no­va­tion and pro­duc­tiv­ity. Out of that fer­ment come the new in­ven­tions and en­tre­pre­neur­ial en­ter­prise that power pros­per­ity.

The ex­tent to which eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity has be­come con­cen­trated in the world’s cities and metropoli­tan ar­eas is stag­ger­ing: The 50 largest met­ros across the globe house just seven per cent of the world’s to­tal pop­u­la­tion, but gen­er­ate 40 per cent of global eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity. Just 40 mega-re­gions — con­stel­la­tions of cities and met­ros like the Bos­ton–new York–wash­ing­ton cor­ri­dor — ac­count for roughly two-thirds of the world’s eco­nomic out­put and more than 85 per cent of its in­no­va­tion, while hous­ing just 18 per cent of its pop­u­la­tion.

The amount of eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity packed into small ur­ban spa­ces within these cities is even more as­ton­ish­ing: Just one small sliver of down­town San Fran­cisco, for in­stance, at­tracts bil­lions of dol­lars in ven­ture cap­i­tal an­nu­ally — more than any na­tion on the planet save for the U.S. This is why I be­lieve it is more use­ful to re­fer to con­tem­po­rary cap­i­tal­ism as ‘ur­ban­ized knowl­edge cap­i­tal­ism’ as op­posed to ‘knowl­edge-based cap­i­tal­ism’.

Even as ur­ban clus­ter­ing drives growth, it also carves deep di­vides into our so­ci­ety. Not ev­ery­thing can clus­ter in the same lim­ited space; some things ul­ti­mately crowd oth­ers out. And, as with most things in life, the win­ners in the com­pe­ti­tion for ur­ban space are those with the most money to spend. As the af­flu­ent

The 50 largest metro ar­eas house just seven per cent of the world’s to­tal pop­u­la­tion, but gen­er­ate 40 per cent of global eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity.

and ad­van­taged re­turn to cities, they col­o­nize the best lo­ca­tions, while every­one else is crammed into the re­main­ing dis­ad­van­taged ar­eas or pushed far­ther out into the suburbs.

This com­pe­ti­tion in turn shapes a re­lated eco­nomic para­dox: The para­dox of land. There are seem­ingly-end­less amounts of land in the world, but not nearly enough of it where it is needed most. Place and class are com­bin­ing to re­in­force and re­pro­duce so­cioe­co­nomic ad­van­tage: Those at the top lo­cate in com­mu­ni­ties that af­ford them priv­i­leged ac­cess to the best schools, ser­vices and eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties, while the rest get the ‘left­over’ neigh­bour­hoods, which have in­fe­rior ver­sions of all these things.

Sadly, these di­vides will only deepen and harden in the age of Trump. For all of his pop­ulist rhetoric about fight­ing for for­got­ten blue-col­lar work­ers and re­build­ing the mid­dle class, his ad­min­is­tra­tion and the Repub­li­can con­gres­sional ma­jor­ity are un­likely to ad­dress the deep struc­tural forces that cre­ated them — and even less likely to help the peo­ple and places that are be­ing left be­hind.

Ur­ban­ism for All

So, what can we do to over­come the New Ur­ban Cri­sis? My col­leagues and I be­lieve that a strat­egy for a more pro­duc­tive ur­ban­ism can take shape around seven pil­lars:

1. Re­form zon­ing and build­ing codes, as well as tax poli­cies, to en­sure that the clus­ter­ing force works to the ben­e­fit of all.

2. In­vest in the in­fras­truc­ture needed to spur den­sity and clus­ter­ing and limit costly and in­ef­fi­cient sprawl.

3. Build more af­ford­able rental hous­ing in cen­tral lo­ca­tions.

4. Ex­pand the mid­dle class by turn­ing low-wage ser­vice jobs into fam­ily-sup­port­ing work.

5. Tackle con­cen­trated poverty head-on by in­vest­ing in peo­ple and places.

6. En­gage in a global ef­fort to build stronger, more pros­per­ous cities in rapidly ur­ban­iz­ing parts of the emerg­ing world.

7. Em­power com­mu­ni­ties and en­able lo­cal lead­ers to strengthen their own economies and cope with the chal­lenges of the New Ur­ban Cri­sis.

I will now discuss the first three pil­lars in more de­tail.

1. MAKE CLUS­TER­ING WORK FOR US, NOT AGAINST US

The clus­ter­ing force is the key driver of eco­nomic growth, and it is ab­so­lutely crit­i­cal that we ef­fec­tively har­ness it to cre­ate the broad­est pos­si­ble ben­e­fits. As in­di­cated, the crux of the prob­lem re­volves around the ‘ur­ban land nexus’: Land is scarce pre­cisely where it is needed the most. We can’t ‘make’ more land — but we can de­velop the land we have more ef­fi­ciently.

A grow­ing cho­rus of ‘mar­ket ur­ban­ists’ ar­gues that the best way to do this is by elim­i­nat­ing the re­stric­tive zon­ing and build­ing codes that limit the mar­ket’s abil­ity to build as needed. They make an im­por­tant point: Zon­ing and build­ing codes need to be lib­er­al­ized and mod­ern­ized. But land use dereg­u­la­tion by it­self is in­suf­fi­cient to ad­dress the full breadth of the prob­lem. While it will re­sult in new hous­ing and in­creased den­sity, the high costs of ur­ban land com­bined with the high cost of high-rise con­struc­tion mean it is likely to mainly add more ex­pen­sive lux­ury tow­ers — and will do lit­tle to pro­vide the kinds of af­ford­able hous­ing our cities re­ally need.

Ur­ban economies are pow­ered not by ex­treme res­i­den­tial den­sity and huge tow­ers, but by the mid-rise, mixed-used den­sity that pro­motes mix­ing and in­ter­ac­tion. The world’s most in­no­va­tive places are not the sky­scraper dis­tricts and ver­ti­cal sprawl of Hong Kong or Sin­ga­pore, but the for­mer in­dus­trial neigh­bour­hoods of New York, San Fran­cisco and Lon­don, which are filled with mid-rise build­ings, fac­tory and ware­house lofts, and the oc­ca­sional high-rise, ar­rayed along streets that en­able con­stant mix­ing and in­ter­ac­tion to take place. Ex­treme land use dereg­u­la­tion could end up dam­ag­ing these in­no­va­tive ur­ban dis­tricts by en­cour­ag­ing too much ver­ti­cal sprawl and turn­ing them into ‘condo canyons’. It is pre­cisely these kinds of mixed-use neigh­bour­hoods that are in short sup­ply, be­cause we ef­fec­tively stopped build­ing them long ago. Ev­ery time we kill one off, we lose an ir­re­place­able as­set for in­no­va­tion.

In his book Progress and Poverty, econ­o­mist Henry Ge­orge ar­gued that a ‘land value tax’ would not only make more ef­fec­tive use of land, but also raise wages, re­duce in­equal­ity and gen­er­ate greater pro­duc­tiv­ity. The ba­sic premise is that the less de­vel­oped land is, the higher it should be taxed. Ge­orge in fact sug­gested that un­de­vel­oped land be taxed at a rate of 100 per cent, mi­nus the im­prove­ments made to it. Ab­sent such im­prove­ments, he

Build­ing more rental hous­ing re­in­forces the ur­ban clus­ter­ing that stim­u­lates in­no­va­tion and eco­nomic growth.

ar­gued, all of the land’s value should re­turn to the pub­lic com­mons.

In to­day’s cities, prop­erty own­ers who use their land for, say, un­de­vel­oped sur­face park­ing lots, would be taxed at a very high rate. A small apart­ment build­ing would be taxed at a lower rate, and a larger one at an even lower rate. This sys­tem would pro­vide greater in­cen­tives to put land in high-priced ur­ban cen­ters to its most pro­duc­tive use, in­creas­ing den­sity and clus­ter­ing.

Fur­ther­more, un­der the cur­rent prop­erty tax sys­tem, land­lords and prop­erty own­ers not only have dis­in­cen­tives to add den­sity and fur­ther de­velop their prop­er­ties, but they are able to reap ex­tra­or­di­nary re­wards by sim­ply prof­it­ing from the in­crease in prop­erty val­ues that is cre­ated by neigh­bour­hood up­grad­ing and the on­go­ing ap­pre­ci­a­tion of real es­tate val­ues. The High Line Park in New York, for in­stance, cre­ated a huge in­crease in the land value of sur­round­ing prop­erty, which gen­er­ated wind­falls for real-es­tate de­vel­op­ers, but lit­tle if any of those gains were re­turned to the park or to the broader com­mu­nity.

A land value tax can help en­sure that such ben­e­fits are shared more broadly by the pub­lic, be­cause the rise in the value of the land that oc­curs through these broader neigh­bour­hood im­prove­ments is also cap­tured by the tax and re­turned to the pub­lic, where it can po­ten­tially be used to in­vest in needed ser­vices and help to close eco­nomic gaps in the com­mu­nity.

2. IN­VEST IN IN­FRAS­TRUC­TURE FOR DEN­SITY AND GROWTH In­fras­truc­ture is an im­por­tant piece of the puz­zle. If well planned and in­vested in strate­gi­cally, it can help ex­pand the scale of clus­tered de­vel­op­ment, the num­ber of places that can sup­port clus­tered de­vel­op­ment, and the con­nec­tions be­tween out­ly­ing ar­eas and ex­ist­ing clus­tered de­vel­op­ment close to ur­ban cen­tres.

In­fras­truc­ture is cer­tainly the topic du jour among politi­cians of all stripes, in­clud­ing Don­ald Trump, who has called for sub­stan­tial in­vest­ments in it to stim­u­late the econ­omy. In Canada, the ad­min­is­tra­tion of Justin Trudeau is do­ing just this, mak­ing a huge fi­nan­cial com­mit­ment to in­fras­truc­ture to spur eco­nomic growth and cre­ate bet­ter jobs. But a menu of ran­dom projects won’t do the trick. What we need are strate­gic in­vest­ments in the kind of in­fras­truc­ture that will push us closer to­gether, as op­posed to spread­ing us apart, and that will strengthen the ur­ban den­sity and clus­ter­ing that power eco­nomic growth. That means shift­ing in­fras­truc­ture in­vest­ment away from roads and high­ways that spread us out and to­wards mass tran­sit that helps clus­ter peo­ple and eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity closer to­gether. Re­search shows that tran­sit-served neigh­bour­hoods pro­vide bet­ter ac­cess to jobs and im­prove res­i­dents’ chances for up­ward mo­bil­ity. Ex­pand­ing tran­sit will in­crease the num­ber of these lo­ca­tions and en­able greater num­bers of peo­ple, es­pe­cially the less ad­van­taged, to gain ac­cess to them.

The fact is, when metro ar­eas reach a thresh­old of five or six mil­lion peo­ple, cars and roads are no longer a very ef­fec­tive way to move peo­ple around. The U.S. has quite a few ar­eas that are roughly this size — for ex­am­ple, the Bay Area, Greater Wash­ing­ton DC, Bos­ton, Philadel­phia, Hous­ton, Dal­las, At­lanta and Mi­ami. In­vest­ing in tran­sit and re­duc­ing re­liance on cars is a key mech­a­nism for gen­er­at­ing more clus­tered de­vel­op­ment in both cen­tral and out­ly­ing ar­eas.

High-speed rail can also help to link sep­a­rate met­ros to­gether in larger and more for­mi­da­ble mega-re­gions. This has al­ready hap­pened in some parts of the U.S. with­out the ben­e­fit of high-speed rail — namely, the so-called Am­trak Cor­ri­dor run­ning be­tween Bos­ton, New York, Philadel­phia, Bal­ti­more and Wash­ing­ton, DC, an area with a pop­u­la­tion of more than 50 mil­lion peo­ple and eco­nomic out­put north of $2 tril­lion. True high-speed rail — trav­el­ling at speeds like France’s TGV or Ja­pan’s Shinkansen — could re­duce the travel time be­tween New York and Bos­ton to less than 90 min­utes; and trips from LA to San Fran­cisco, or Pittsburgh to Chicago, would shrink to a more man­age­able two and a half hours. This could sub­stan­tially ex­pand the func­tional labour mar­kets of these places and bol­ster their over­all eco­nomic com­pet­i­tive­ness.

The most ef­fec­tive way to fund new tran­sit and high-speed rail is to re­di­rect a larger share of the gas tax to­ward such projects. It is time to level the play­ing field by re­duc­ing the out­right sub­sidy we give to the au­to­mo­bile in the form of roads and high­ways. Cities in other parts of the world, in­clud­ing Lon­don, have be­gun to in­sti­tute con­ges­tion charges, which make driv­ers pay for their use of busy roads to help al­le­vi­ate traf­fic and pol­lu­tion.

New de­vel­op­ments like self-driv­ing cars, elec­tric ve­hi­cles and on-de­mand sys­tems such as Uber and Lyft will cer­tainly play a big role in the city of the fu­ture. But we still need mass tran­sit to pro­vide the con­nec­tive fiber that will in­crease clus­ter­ing and en­able the de­vel­op­ment of a larger num­ber of dense, mixed-use clus­tered neigh­bour­hoods that are af­ford­able to more peo­ple.

3. BUILD MORE AF­FORD­ABLE RENTAL HOUS­ING In our most ex­pen­sive cities, hous­ing has be­come un­af­ford­able for all but the top one-third of so­ci­ety’s most ad­van­taged peo­ple.

Es­sen­tial ser­vice providers — in­clud­ing po­lice and fire­fight­ers, teach­ers, hos­pi­tal work­ers and restau­rant work­ers — are be­ing pushed far­ther and far­ther away from ur­ban cen­tres and other key ar­eas of eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity. In some places, it is be­com­ing so hard to at­tract peo­ple to these roles that large-scale com­mer­cial de­vel­op­ers are call­ing for ‘ur­ban work­force hous­ing’ to en­sure their cities have the work­ers they need to op­er­ate.

The prob­lem of hous­ing af­ford­abil­ity may be most acute in su­per­star cities and tech hubs, but it ex­tends far be­yond them. Peo­ple across the coun­try, es­pe­cially low-in­come renters, are spend­ing too much of their in­comes on hous­ing. And the hous­ing sys­tem is strongly ori­ented to­ward sin­gle-fam­ily hous­ing in sprawl­ing suburbs and against the more af­ford­able, clus­tered rental hous­ing that ur­ban­ized knowl­edge cap­i­tal­ism re­quires.

A big part of the prob­lem is hous­ing pol­icy it­self. De­signed to stim­u­late sub­ur­ban­iza­tion, cur­rent hous­ing pol­icy mas­sively sub­si­dizes home­own­ers. The U.S. gov­ern­ment pro­vides an es­ti­mated $200 bil­lion in an­nual sub­si­dies for home own­er­ship via tax de­duc­tions for mort­gage in­ter­est. When the in­di­rect costs are ac­counted for, the sub­sidy may run as high as $600 bil­lion, four to 12 times as much as the na­tion spends on hous­ing as­sis­tance to those in need ($46 bil­lion a year). The top 20 per cent of in­come earn­ers gain 75 per cent of these ben­e­fits, and the top 1 % hauls in 15 per cent. These poli­cies badly dis­tort the hous­ing mar­ket, caus­ing it to pro­duce too much spread-out, sin­gle-fam­ily hous­ing and not enough clus­tered rental hous­ing.

De­spite these dis­tor­tions, the shift from sin­gle-fam­ily sub­ur­ban homes to multi-fam­ily rental hous­ing, which I re­fer to as ‘the great hous­ing re­set’, is al­ready un­der way. The num­ber of renter house­holds in­creased by nine mil­lion be­tween 2005 and 2015—the largest one-decade in­crease on record. By the end of that pe­riod, 43 mil­lion Amer­i­cans were rent­ing, and the share of renters had grown from 31 to 37 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion. More than seven in ten Mil­len­ni­als be­tween the ages of 18 and 34 are renters — as are more than half the res­i­dents of New York, LA and San Fran­cisco.

In my view, rent­ing is more closely aligned with the needs of the ur­ban­ized knowl­edge-based econ­omy than home own­er­ship. Renters are more likely to live close to work or use tran­sit to get to their jobs, while sub­ur­ban home­own­ers are more likely to com­mute long dis­tances in their cars. Metro ar­eas with higher lev­els of renters have higher lev­els of in­no­va­tion, greater con­cen­tra­tions of high-tech firms, higher shares of col­lege grad­u­ates and the cre­ative class, and higher wages, in­comes, and pro­duc­tiv­ity, while metro ar­eas with higher lev­els of home­own­er­ship are less in­no­va­tive, less pro­duc­tive, and less di­verse, on av­er­age, and have smaller shares of highly ed­u­cated and skilled tal­ent.

Build­ing more rental hous­ing and less sin­gle-fam­ily hous­ing is in sync with and re­in­forces the ur­ban clus­ter­ing that stim­u­lates in­no­va­tion and eco­nomic growth. Still, too many renters are se­ri­ously bur­dened by their hous­ing costs, many of them caught in a death spi­ral of ris­ing rents and de­clin­ing in­comes. Av­er­age rents in­creased by more than 22 per cent be­tween 2006 and 2014, while av­er­age in­comes de­clined by nearly six per cent. The num­ber of renters pay­ing 30 per cent or more of their in­come for rent (which is con­sid­ered the thresh­old for be­ing cost-bur­dened) soared from 14.8 mil­lion in 2001 to 21.3 mil­lion in 2014, while the num­ber who de­voted more than half of their in­come to rent grew from 7.5 mil­lion to 11.4 mil­lion.

In clos­ing

Ul­ti­mately, the only way for­ward for our econ­omy and so­ci­ety is more — not less — ur­ban­ism. How we re­spond to the New Ur­ban Cri­sis will de­ter­mine whether our cities, suburbs and na­tions will suc­cess­fully forge a new era of sus­tain­able and in­clu­sive pros­per­ity, or fall vic­tim to our grow­ing in­equities and di­vides.

New and bet­ter ur­ban­ism is in­deed pos­si­ble, but it will not cre­ate it­self. Do we want the di­vides and con­tra­dic­tions of win­ner-take-all ur­ban­ism, or the prom­ise of a fuller and fairer ur­ban­ism for all? This is the defin­ing is­sue — and strug­gle — of our time.

Richard Florida is Univer­sity Pro­fes­sor and Di­rec­tor of Cities at the Mar­tin Pros­per­ity In­sti­tute at the Rot­man School of Man­age­ment, a Dis­tin­guished Vis­it­ing Fel­low at NYU and co-founder of The At­lantic’s City­lab. This ar­ti­cle is an adapted ex­cerpt from his lat­est book, The New Ur­ban Cri­sis: How Our Cities Are In­creas­ing In­equal­ity, Deep­en­ing Seg­re­ga­tion, and Fail­ing the Mid­dle Class — and What We Can Do About It (Ba­sic Books, 2017).

Rot­man fac­ulty re­search is ranked #3 glob­ally by the Fi­nan­cial Times.

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