An Attorney, a Janitor and a Mail Carrier Walk into a Bar – Where Are They?

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An Attorney, a Janitor and a Mail Carrier Walk into a Bar – Where Are They?

Not all posh neighborhoods are exclusive. Sure, some are so upscale that the mail carrier is the only working-class person you’ll see. Others are wholly affordable. More rare is a third kind of place, where swanky homes share the curb with starter condos.

We think these places are important because they bring people of different incomes closer together — as neighbors.

Economically Integrated Neighborhoods Have a Mix of Home Prices
A high-end home near some starter condos in Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood

Sure, these neighbors live in different homes. One is bigger than the other, and it probably has a nicer refrigerator. But out in the neighborhood, local families share the same safe parks and sidewalks. And they’re in the same school district.

We know that home prices and incomes are different things. But they are tied together in a meaningful way. As a family’s income increases, they can afford a more expensive home.

Economically Integrated Neighborhoods

Although places with a balanced mixture of home prices cover just 13 percent of our cities, experts say they’re good for society. A report from the Pew Charitable Trusts found greater economic mobility in neighborhoods with a wide range of incomes than in neighborhoods where incomes were mostly the same.

So where are these neighborhoods? Janitors, mail carriers and attorneys in Boston should check out Egleston Square, a neighborhood with a healthy mix of home prices. In Denver, there’s Jefferson Park.

Boston tops our list of economically integrated cities, with 51 percent of the city having a balanced home price mix. Baltimore and San Francisco are both near the bottom, at 10 and 11 percent. But the details matter. Eighty-eight percent of San Francisco is covered by homes that a middle-income San Francisco family can’t afford. Baltimore families, on the other hand, can afford to buy in 86 percent of Baltimore.

City Balanced Mix Area High-end Area Affordable Area
Boston 51% 35% 15%
Seattle 31% 10% 59%
Washington, DC 30% 25% 45%
San Jose 24% 53% 24%
Denver 24% 7% 69%
San Diego 20% 40% 40%
Los Angeles 19% 74% 7%
Chicago 17% 5% 79%
Austin 16% 11% 73%
Phoenix 13% 11% 76%
Houston 12% 16% 72%
Philadelphia 11% 6% 82%
Baltimore 11% 3% 86%
San Francisco 10% 88% 2%
San Antonio 8% 5% 88%
Memphis 8% 4% 88%
Jacksonville 7% 3% 90%
Detroit 7% 1% 92%
Indianapolis 6% 2% 92%
Columbus 4% 1% 95%

When we zoomed in, we were surprised by what we found, even in Redfin’s home city of Seattle. Queen Anne, for example, feels like one of the city’s swankiest neighborhoods. But it’s also a place where median-income families can afford to buy. In this area, shops and condos were built on the former site of a single shop and parking lot. This made an invitation for working-class folks to live in a neighborhood where the existing housing stock was out of reach.

Seattle
Balanced Mix Area High-end Area Affordable Area
Eastlake 89% Broadmoor 80% Beacon Hill 100%
Ravenna 86% Montlake 72% International District 100%
U District 82% Laurelhurst 71% Victory Heights 100%
Alki 69% Madison Park 69% Columbia City 100%
Queen Anne 61% Windermere 50% Yesler Terrace 100%

We know that transforming a shop and parking lot into working-class homes is a big, messy recipe with lots of ingredients. But zoning is one of the key ingredients, and it’s something cities can bring to the table. So whenever this happens, it shows us that a city can control its own destiny. The experts think so too:

“What cities can do, through local policy, is work to assure an adequate housing supply, so that economic growth doesn’t needlessly push up housing prices. By providing for a range of housing types and investing in the civic realm, cities can help promote economically integrated communities that are associated with widely shared opportunity.” – Joe Cortright, Director of City Observatory, writing in The Atlantic

It can take decades for a city to change its housing mix. In the meantime, measuring how places stack up, and highlighting neighborhoods with a balanced housing mix, is one way to get the conversation started.

To find these communities, we tallied the affordability of millions of homes by comparing their sale price to the purchasing power of a local, median-income family. Addresses were labeled as either affordable or high-end and then packed into a high-resolution grid to see how much area in each city and neighborhood fit into three categories: mostly affordable, mostly high-end or a mixture of affordable and high-end. This was like shaking two colors of sprinkles onto a checkerboard and counting the sprinkles on each square.

If an area had more than three affordable houses or condominiums sold for every expensive one, we labeled it affordable. Areas with more than three pricey homes sold to every economical one were considered high-end. In between were the balanced areas, with a wide range of home prices.

This was a simple analysis, and there’s more to come. But it highlights something we’ve been thinking about at Redfin. Most cities have neighborhoods with a mix of high-end and affordable homes. For homebuyers, it’s not impossible to find these places. It’s just really hard. And we can help you find them.

Austin
Balanced Mix Area High-end Area Affordable Area
Zilker 87% Cat Mountain Villas 91% Holly 100%
Rosedale 84% West Austin 70% Garrison Park 100%
Bouldin Creek 67% Bryker Woods 60% South Manchaca 100%
Allandale 53% Windsor Road 58% West Congress 100%
Highland 100%
Baltimore
Balanced Mix Area High-end Area Affordable Area
Tuscany-Canterbury 100% Wyndhurst 100% Lauraville (Hamilton) 100%
Otterbein 100% The Orchards 100% Highlandtown (Brewer’s Hill) 100%
Locust Point 75% North Roland Park / Poplar Hill 75% Mayfield 100%
Canton 74% Homeland 50% Patterson Park 100%
Hampden 100%
Boston
Balanced Mix Area High-end Area Affordable Area
Highland Park (Roxbury) 79% Bay Village 100% Uphams Corner 79%
Egleston Square 75% Back Bay 100% Hyde Park 68%
Mission Hill 65% North End / Waterfront 100% Mattapan 65%
Hyde Square-Jackson Square 64% Beacon Hill 93% Bowdoin Ave Area (Dhrchester) 64%
South End 90% Franklin Field 60%
Chicago
Balanced Mix Area High-end Area Affordable Area
Fulton River District 100% East Village 100% Schorsch Village 100%
Prairie District 100% Wicker Park 63% Grand Crossing 100%
The Villa 100% Bucktown 59% Gage Park 100%
Ravenswood 90% Lincoln Park 54% West Chesterfield 100%
Palmer Square 89% Hegewisch 100%
Columbus
Balanced Mix Area High-end Area Affordable Area
Stilson East 62% Woods of Josephinium 60% Foxboro 100%
Worthingview 55% Misty Meadows 100%
Brewery District 53% Summerwood 100%
South Franklinton 50% Worthington Green 100%
German Village 50% Devonshire 100%
Denver
Balanced Mix Area High-end Area Affordable Area
Platt Park 100% Bonnie Brae 100% Westwood 100%
Highland 97% Country Club 64% Cole 100%
Jefferson Park 88% Washington Park 62% Green Valley Ranch 100%
Sloan Lake 76% Belcaro 54% Ruby Hill 100%
West Highland 75% Cherry Creek 50% Clayton 100%
Detroit
Balanced Mix Area High-end Area Affordable Area
Corktown 100% Mohican Regent 100%
Millenium Village 100% Regent Park 100%
South University Village 100% Russell Woods 100%
Carbon Works 100% Minock Park 100%
Sherwood Forest 100%
Houston
Balanced Mix Area High-end Area Affordable Area
Parkwood 100% Crestwood /
Memorial Park
100% Brookhaven 100%
Westmoreland / Montrose 82% Camp Logan 96% Sagemont 100%
Moonshine Hill 81% Gaywood 92% Lindale Park 100%
Sunset Terrace (West University) 75% Southampton 89% Near Northside 93%
Fourth Ward 71% Richmond Plaza/Bellaire 86% Andover 83%
Indianapolis
Balanced Mix Area High-end Area Affordable Area
Downtown 100% Augusta Heights 100%
Oak Hill 69% Moss Creek 100%
Gordon Acres 62% Sheridan Heights 100%
The Village of Orchard Park 100%
Scarborough Village 100%
Jacksonville Florida
Balanced Mix Area High-end Area Affordable Area
Fort George Island 81% Woodstock 100%
North New Berlin 73% Hogan 100%
Black Hammock Island 71% Love Grove-Riviera Manor 100%
Isle of Palms (Southside) 62% Secret Cove 100%
Beauclerc 53% Southwood 100%
Los Angeles
Balanced Mix Area High-end Area Affordable Area
Pacific Palisades 100% Vermont Vista 100%
Cheviot Hills 100% Watts 81%
Venice 100% Boyle Heights 67%
Los Feliz 100% Pacoima 64%
Beverly Hills 100% South Los Angeles 61%
Memphis
Balanced Mix Area High-end Area Affordable Area
South Bluffs 100% Galloway Gardens
[ 1, 2, 3 ]
80% Orange Mound 100%
Overton Park 71% Normal Station 100%
Harbor Town 67% Sea Isle Park 90%
Central Gardens 62% Binghampton-Lester 90%
Chicasaw Gardens 58%
Philly
Balanced Mix Area High-end Area Affordable Area
Spring Garden 92% Fitler Square 91% Mayfair 100%
Olde Kensington 91% Rittenhouse Square 80% Ogontz 100%
Northern Liberties 82% Passyunk 80% Cowtown 100%
Francisville 73% Society Hill 77% Castor Gardens 100%
Olde City 73% Chestnut Hill 75% East Oak Lane 100%
Phoenix
Balanced Mix Area High-end Area Affordable Area
Willo 89% Village at Aviano 84% Estrella Northwest 100%
Paradise Foothills 57% Arcadia 71% West Phoenix 100%
Encanto Palmcroft Historic
District
53% Biltmore Highlands 57% Laveen Village 100%
Windsor Square 50% Sonoran Foothills 50% Union Hills Estates 100%
Kierland 50% Shea North Estates 50% South Mountain Heights 100%
San Antonio
Balanced Mix Area High-end Area Affordable Area
Big Springs 69% Friedrich Park 75% Pecan Valley 100%
Emerald Forest 67% Dominion 67% Ingram Hills 100%
The Vineyard 65% Greystone Country Estates 55% Timber Ridge 100%
Deerfield 65% Inwood 53% Northwest Crossing 100%
Alamo Plaza 60% Eckhert Crossing 100%
San Diego
Balanced Mix Area High-end Area Affordable Area
Mira Mesa /
Scripps Ranch
100% Carmel Valley 100% Rolando / SDSU 100%
Banker’s Hill 74% Sunset Cliffs 100% El Cerrito 100%
Mission Valley 71% La Jolla 100% Logan Heights 100%
Hillcrest 62% Fairbanks 100% Grant Hill 100%
Horton Plaza / Marina 60% Del Mar 94% Bay Terrace 100%
San Francisco
Balanced Mix Area High-end Area Affordable Area
Visitacion Valley 56% Bayview 100% Bayview /
Hunters Point
60%
Sunnydale 50% Ashbury Heights 100%
Sea Cliff 100%
St. Francis Wood 100%
Noe Valley /
Dolores Heights
100%
San Jose
Balanced Mix Area High-end Area Affordable Area
Almaden 97% Alum Rock 62%
Willow Glen 84% Downtown 50%
Cambrian Park 80%
Blossom Hill 65%
Evergreen 64%
Washington
DC
Balanced Mix Area High-end Area Affordable Area
Columbia Heights 100% The Palisades 100% Fort Davis 100%
West End 100% Spring Valley 92% River Terrace-Lily
Ponds-Mayfair
100%
Adams
Morgan / Kalorama Heights / Lanier Heights
92% Foxhall Crescent 87% Lamond-Riggs 100%
Petworth 88% Chevy Chase 85% Deanwood 100%
Barney Circle 85% West Village (Georgetown) 81%

Data

We used sale price data from Redfin and 2014 city-specific median family income from the American Community Survey. For purchasing power, we kept it simple: 20 percent down on a 30-year loan at 4 percent, with 28 percent of monthly family income going toward the mortgage and principal. To get the price mix of different areas, we summarized homes in a 500 meter grid. After that, we classified each grid cell as one of the 3 categories. Percentages are the area in a category.

Here’s what the raw data looked like, with affordable homes in blue, high-end homes in red, and a mix of affordable and high-end homes in purple:

Economically Integrated Neighborhoods In American Cities

For more on this story from the Associated Press, click here.

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