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April 11:  CDT hosted a meeting about Newton Housing and Zoning Policies, "Segregated by Design."  You can see the recording of this event HERE

Housing Discrimination Overview

Did you know that the planned community of Levittown, PA had provisions in the leases excluding anyone black from buying a home – and the Supreme Court said it was ok? Did you know that the term “redlining” comes from the maps drawn by banks to set FHA-backed mortgages higher for black residents? Both are Federally subsidized programs! These and other policies have forced the Black population into designated areas that typically have poorly funded schools, fewer parks and trees, more pavement, large deposits of toxic waste, and greater levels of nitrous oxide in the air. The practices also restrain building the same home equity that has allowed the white population to move from low-income families to middle and upper-class residents and then to pass their wealth to the next generation. 

According to the Federal Reserve in 2019, White families have eight times the wealth of Black families. Most of the White wealth – 85 percent for those over the age of 55 – comes from home ownership. And guess what? Almost one-third of white families will give their wealth to the next generation, perpetuating the inequality that laws created. 

But these are national policies and figures. Most towns in Massachusetts, including Newton, adopted the same housing and redlining policies that excluded immigrants and people of color from areas that were designated as the “best” areas of the community. Zoning requirements for single-family homes with minimum sized lots make almost all houses out of the reach of low- or moderate-income families in Newton. Indeed, a 2020 zoning report indicated that less than six-percent of the households are above low- or moderate-income levels. Consequently, Newton is four-percent Black and five-percent Latine compared to twelve-percent black and nine-percent Latine in the Commonwealth. But not everyone agrees this level of inequality requires attention. 

How to Become Involved 

Two interfaith organizations are involved in addressing exclusionary housing policies in the Boston area. 

Housing is a priority issue for the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO), growing out of the “listening sessions” among CDT and other membership over the past two years. For more information, contact Louise Enoch (

The Newton Interfaith Housing Coalition (NIHC) is a newly formed coalition of clergy and lay members from the churches, parishes, and synagogues in Newton. For more information, contact Lisa Keshet ( 

Special “Thank You” to the Planning Group for the April 11 CDT Meeting: 
Lisa Keshet (, Tatjana Meschede (, Jeff Sacks (, Cindy Shulak-Rome (, Louise Enoch (, and Tony Broh (

Sun, May 19 2024 11 Iyyar 5784