What Climbing Mount Laurel Tells Us About Integration

What Climbing Mount Laurel Tells Us About Integration
Douglas S. Massey, Len Albright, Rebecca Casciano, Elizabeth Derickson & David N. Kinsey
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The Mount Laurel decision, requiring New Jersey's municipalities to include a fair share of affordable residences, led to the development of the Ethel Lawrence Homes, an affordable multifamily housing development in one of Philadelphia's affluent suburbs. Douglas Massey and a cadre of co-authors analyzed the impacts of the Ethel Lawrence Homes on its residents as well as the surrounding area.

Major findings:

  • Although the proposed development was highly contested, ten years after the Ethel Lawrence Homes opened, nearly one-third of nearby residents were unaware there was affordable housing in the neighborhood.
  • The researchers found no spike in crime rates, no reduction in property values, and no increase in tax burdens.
  • While the impacts on the township and neighbors were nil, the researchers found that Ethel Lawrence residents benefited from reductions in mental distress, exposure to violence, and social disorder.
  • Residents' children spent more time studying, were more academically supported by their parents, and had a quiet study space, yet they did not experience gains, as measured by GPA, since the more rigorous local school counterbalanced the added effort.