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The Geography of Opportunity: Mapping to Promote Equitable Community Development and Fair Housing in King County, WA

The Geography of Opportunity: Mapping to Promote Equitable Community Development and Fair Housing in King County, WA
2010Opportunity Communities

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The following report assesses the “State of Opportunity” in King County, Washington. An “opportunity mapping” analysis conducted by the Kirwan Institute was made possible through a small grant funded by the Poverty and Race Research Action Council (PRRAC). The Kirwan Institute is a national leader in conducting opportunity mapping to support social and racial justice initiatives. The goal of the opportunity mapping initiative is to explore how low income groups and racial and ethnic populations are situated within King County’s geography of opportunity.

Essential opportunities needed to succeed, thrive and excel in our 21st-century society include high quality education, a healthy and safe environment, sustainable employment, political empowerment and outlets for wealth building. By assuring access to these critical opportunity structures the likelihood that people can meet their full development potential benefiting both the individual and society as a whole increases dramatically. Unfortunately, access to these critical building blocks of opportunity is not equal, or even possible, for many people. This isolation from opportunity is even more pronounced in low income communities, especially communities of color. Many low income communities are deprived of the essential elements needed to advance and succeed in our society.

Housing is more than just shelter; rather, it is a strategic intervention point into opportunity and advancement for marginalized populations. Due to the critical importance of affordable housing in providing access to opportunity, the King County opportunity mapping initiative analyzed the supply of subsidized housing in the County in relation to opportunity. The results suggest that the County’s subsidized housing supply is isolated from many high opportunity communities. Nearly 62% of the subsidized housing sites in the County were found in low opportunity communities.