The deep roots of the Gainesville housing crisis

Based on patterns over the past two years, more than 60,000 new neighbors are expected to join our community over the next ten years. I am pleased to welcome our new neighbors. We must either find space for them in our existing urban environment, or they will be forced to live far away, clogging our streets, compounding our climate crisis and disconnected from the social fabric of our community.

Prior to 1958, Gainesville had only four zone districts (“A” through “D”), with “A” being the basic residential designation. This zoning allowed up to four houses per lot (now called a quadruplex). From then on, the districts became more intense.

They were easy to understand and flexible enough for a variety of homes in each neighborhood. We can still see some of these old homes in historic neighborhoods like Pleasant Street and Duckpond.

A depiction of a duplex to be built by the Gainesville Housing Authority and its development company.

What changed in 1958? Well, a decade earlier, a landmark Supreme Court case, Shelley v. Kraemer (1948) that cities could no longer separate apartments according to race.

Cities, including Gainesville, worked on their zone codes to preserve exclusive neighborhoods that would serve to maintain racial segregation no longer permitted by law. This is called Exclusion Zones and was codified by the City of Gainesville in 1958.

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