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Boston region’s high housing costs aggravating inequality: report

Some improvement

Back Bay from the sky Bill Damon/Flickr.

The Boston region’s polarization along socioeconomic lines is still acute, even if it has improved a bit in recent years, according to a new report from the Metropolitan Area Planning Council that used data for the five years ending in 2015.

The report, an update to a 2011 survey that covered the same theme, showed among other things that white residents of the Boston region live in “substantially more affluent neighborhoods” than minority residents—even when the households had the same annual income.

And, while whites and African-Americans were less segregated from one another than a generation ago, segregation between whites, the majority of the region’s population racially, and Latinos, the region’s fastest-growing minority, had increased, the report said.

A lot of this has to do with housing costs, according to the council’s report. These costs make it more difficult to buy into certain neighborhoods—or to buy at all, exposing sometimes already vulnerable populations to the detrimental effects of sharp rent increases. From the report:

White householders, householders with a college degree, and householders over 65 years of age own their homes at the highest rate, close to 70 percent for all three groups. Householders who are Black and Latino own their homes at the lowest rates, 36 and 43 percentage points lower than their White counterparts, respectively. ...

Research suggests that residential displacement may negatively impact mental health, child health, chronic disease, and access to healthcare facilities in already marginalized populations.

The Metropolitan Area Planning Council’s report dropped on the same Feb. 28 as a much-ballyhooed ranking from U.S. News & World Report that named Massachusetts as the best state to live in the union. You bet. If you can afford it.