Giving Compass' Take: 

• Urban spatial inequality has significant consequences for low-income residents, who often struggle to access the amenities available in their cities.

• Are you aware of anecdotal or empirical evidence of spatial inequalities in your community? What opportunities exist to reduce such inequality in your area?

• One way to flight spacial inequality is to bring services to low-income areas and ensure that the existing population can afford to stay and use them. Find out why one organization is investing in high-quality affordable housing and services.

Concern for inequality generally and urban inequality more specifically is widespread, as evident in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals issued in 2015 and further emphasized in the Habitat III Urban Agendaissued in 2016. In a highly urbanized region such as Latin America, urban inequality is central to development strategies. This is also highlighted in the recent report by the Development Bank of Latin America, “Urban Growth and Access to Opportunities: A Challenge for Latin America.”

Underlying these concerns is a basic question of how much of urban inequality and access to opportunities is due to spatial inequity. Clearly, where one lives determines access. And access determines where one works, shops, receives health care, and much more.

The two elements crucial to achieving access are land use markets and policies and transport linkages and services for different areas of a city. When land markets divide a city into lower versus higher income neighborhoods and force lower income households to live along the urban periphery with limited affordable transport services, the level of spatial inequity increases.

A recent study in Buenos Aires illustrates how lower income housing is increasingly located on the outskirts of the city where limited public transport results in less access to employment within a reasonable commute.

Read the full article on addressing spacial inequality by Jeffrey Gutman and Nirav Patel at Brookings.