Where We Live and Work and Why That Matters | Excerpt | Will Gardner

Norm Van Eeden Petersman
Norm Van Eeden Petersman

Where We Live and Work and Why That Matters


Spatial mismatch is an economic concept that describes the challenges brought about by the geographical separation between low-income people and job opportunities. It’s usually discussed as a phenomenon brought about by residential segregation and its negative impact on Black communities in the U.S.


With the rise of suburbanization and auto-dominated development and the subsequent destruction of and disinvestment in our urban cores (and local downtowns), working people were increasingly separated from job centers. In many areas of the U.S., it continues to be the case that people looking for affordable housing are forced to “drive until they qualify” for a mortgage.


Our town's overall quality of life and financial health improve when we create more overlap. We want people who live here to have access to nearby job opportunities. We want people who work here to be able to live here if they choose. Right now, only about 14% of the people who live in Fairhaven also work here. That puts Fairhaven in line with a lot of bedroom communities in the U.S. But unlike a lot of commuter suburbs, much of Fairhaven was built before WWII and the subsequent suburban experiment, meaning we have the foundation that could easily allow for continued thickening and growth. While many towns razed their downtowns to make space for surface parking lots, Fairhaven’s downtown centers still stand awaiting investment, despite decades of neglect in favor of short-sighted bets on Route 6 big boxes.


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