We also see that while Alexandria is famously diverse as a city, there are a few specific areas that do the heavy lifting in making the city that way.
Our most diverse neighborhoods will be no surprise to residents: the Westernmost portions of the West End, namely the Landmark/Van Dorn and Alexandria West areas, plus the northeastern corner of the city known as Arlandria/Chirilagua.
Other areas lag far behind in diversity and show why it is that white Alexandrians are mostly likely to live separately from others, specifically the southern and easternmost portions of Old Town, and the swaths of Central Alexandria zoned exclusively for single family homes.
The same pattern shows up when we look at national origin instead of race, shown by Map 3 in the report. This map essentially shows where immigrants live in Alexandria, and we see the same pattern. Western Alexandra and Arlandria/Chirilagua are joined by multi-family zoned areas of the Duke Street corridor, while Old Town and the single family-zoned areas of Central Alexandria appear barren.
While exclusionary zoning laws often aimead to exclude people by race, their effectiveness and legality is rooted in the fact that they remain race-neutral on their face. The mechanism for exclusion is not race, but wealth. Of course these factors remain heavily interrelated in the United States, so zoning to exclude by wealth or income results in exclusion by race and ethnicity as well.
Map 19 in the report shows us how Alexandria’s zoning laws separate us by economic factors as well. Note how low the poverty rates are in single-family zoned areas of Central Alexandria compared.
This isn’t because those neighborhoods have some quality that magically makes people who live there rich; it’s because they’ve legally excluded non-wealthy people from living there for decades.
The report explicitly names the fact that our zoning makes it difficult to build housing affordable to those who need it most, stating “The prevalence of single-family residential zoning…makes it challenging to develop committed affordable housing that could offer housing opportunities to members of protected classes.”
Map 71 in the report shows the percent of households that have one of the government’s four defined housing problems: lack of a kitchen, lack of plumbing, overcrowding, and housing const burden.
Again, this map lines up with Alexandria’s exclusive zoning. Families with housing issues can’t afford to access the central areas of the city, while in those exclusive neighborhoods housing areas are uncommon relative to the rest of the city.