So what’s ugly? Though the size of the average American house has doubled since the 1960s, surging toward 2,600 square feet, the size of these neighborhoods—just minutes from everywhere, as real estate agents and commercial builders like to say, close to jobs and downtowns—has not.
That space comes at a premium, and people for whom “affordable housing” is something other people worry about are willing and able to pay it. They want to be able to walk to the coffee shop even if the baristas who pull their shots of espresso can’t.
“What is upsetting,” Koush says, “is that people made lives for themselves, and then the middle-class white people want to move back in and claim the territory for themselves and push those people out.”
Ignored for years, redlined by the federal government, and systematically denied the loans that would have allowed the families who lived there to build generational wealth, these “hot,” “new” neighborhoods are being “discovered.” For someone to move in, someone else has to move out. So, in East Austin, in Houston’s Freedmen’s Town and Third Ward and Montrose, in Dallas’ Bishop Arts and Oak Cliff, among other gentrifying and -fied neighborhoods, the architectural language (what architects call “vernacular”) has become inseparable from the vocabulary of policy, where other complicated words, like “displacement,” “segregation,” “inequity,” and “NIMBYism,” are warring furiously.