City of Atlanta Reflection Paper-Part 2 of 2

Atlanta’s Political Structure, Key Partnerships, City Management, Best policies

Regarding the structure of the city government, the City of Atlanta has more of a reform model rather than a political model. According to Robert England (2017), the reform agenda includes a council-manager plan, nonpartisan ballots, and at-large constituencies part of the progressive era.  However, as the state’s capital, it gets a strong influence on a political model as well. In short sum, the city has a mixture of both models. As a city of Georgia, Atlanta has a reform model, but as Georgia’s capital and the headquarter of the Georgia State Governor’s Office, it has a political model.

Like the City of Augusta, Atlanta has a government structure with a mayor and special districts with commissioners. The commissioners also serve different roles in the different branches of Atlanta’s executive offices. Atlanta has both a mayor, the executive branch, and a city council team, which serves as the legislative branch. The president of the city council service kind of like a vice-major in the structure. There are also three other at-large councilmen (the City of Atlanta, Ga, 2021). While mayor-council governments are typical in the smallest and largest municipalities, the council-manager plan is popular with the mid-sized city (England, 2017). Contrastingly, unlike Augusta, The City of Atlanta and Fulton County are not consolidated. Atlanta is unique for its dual approach; this type of government structure has many red tapes and is not as efficient.

Atlanta has a Chief of Staff that serves as an advisor to the mayor, acting as a City Administrator. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms serve as the executive officer, similar to an administrator who has the power to execute and enforce provisions of all departments of the city. Atlanta has 15 different offices and agencies (the City of Atlanta, Ga, 2021). Furthermore, instead of a City Manager, the City of Atlanta employs a Chief Operating Officer (COO). The COO “directly manages and oversees all city operating departments and related agencies including Aviation, Police, Fire, Corrections, Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs, Planning and Community Development, Public Works, Watershed Management, Human Resources, Procurement, Information Technology, Sustainability and Enterprise Assets.” (the City of Atlanta, Ga, 2021)

One of the policies that I appreciate is the formation of diverse committees. Atlanta also has different committees and councils that are comprised of members-at-large in the local community. These are non-paid positions and representatives of the community. For example, the Confederate Monuments Advisory Committee comprises many business owners, education leaders, and directors of non-profits (the City of Atlanta, Ga, 2021). Furthermore, Atlanta Fulton County engages with citizens by offering public participation to their board meeting via zoom and form a focus group to survey for social research. In addition to that, Atlanta also has reports available for download and states a straightforward way to contact them on their website (Mosaic Community Planning, 2019).

Another policy that Atlanta had seen success in is its incentives for fostering public-private partnerships. The City Council has signed contracts with private developers on projects like LCI to create a more sustainable redevelopment project. An excellent example from the past is the Livable Centers Initiative (LCI) plan; it focused on transit-oriented development in the city’s planning efforts (Department of Planning and Community Development, 2016). Public and private partnerships with business, financial and non-profit communities are key to spurring quality job creation and investment throughout the city’s neighborhoods (the City of Atlanta, Ga, 2021). Atlanta’s Bureau of Planning and Development provided information and advice to the mayor and city council, and other city officials to assist them in making decisions about the growth and development of the city. It also collaborates with non-profit organizations such as the Historic District Development Corporation.

Overview of Atlanta’s Community

Listed as the 9th largest Metropolitan Statistical Area in the United States, the City of Atlanta, Georgia, was founded in 1837. Its 2015, the population was an estimated 437,077 (Department of Planning and Community Development, 2016). The majority of Atlanta, around 90%, is in Fulton County; the other 10% is in DeKalb County The racial composition of Atlanta in 2014 was estimated to be 53% black, 40% white, 5% Hispanic origins, 4% Asians, and 2% two or more (Department of Planning and Community Development, 2016).

Atlanta full-heartedly embraces diversity, as it is coined the birthplace of civil rights. The city learned from its long mistake of segregation and made a breakthrough during civil rights. The city’s comprehensive plan credits its vibrant economy to the diversity of its people, places, activities. The city stated that diversity, connectivity, and synergy are among its development principles (Department of Planning and Community Development, 2016). There are 12 districts that organize the city. Council President is elected from the city at large. The council consists of 15 members, 12 elected from single-member districts and three elected at-large.

Atlanta’s Community Assets

Downtown Atlanta is a very bikeable, walkable, and pedestrian-oriented community. The city’s continuing effort to offer various safe and affordable transportation options, such as sidewalks, streetscapes, greenway trails, bike lanes, and handicap accessibility. In recent years, the City converted shared bike-automobile lanes and a few parking spaces to designated bike lanes around Piedmont Park (Department of Planning and Community Development, 2016).

Atlanta is well known for its BeltLine, connected to Ponce City Market, residential lofts, public transit, and is walk and bike-friendly. According to the Department of Planning and Community Development (2016), the agency, Atlanta BeltLine, Inc., connected 45 in town neighborhoods via a 22-mile of repurposed old railroad tracks that encircled the city.

Another feature that Atlanta attracts people to move there is that the economy of the city is very prosperous and sustainable. The metro area alone is home to Delta Airlines, Coca-Cola, the world’s largest aquarium, and over a dozen other Fortune 500 companies. Atlanta continues to be an attraction and hub for business as it is home to the world’s busiest airport. “The Metropolitan Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and the City of Atlanta are committed to actively recruiting new companies to the region” (the City of Atlanta, Ga, 2021).

Last but not least, my personal favorite about Atlanta is that it is known for diversity in people, culture, and cuisine. There are many concentrated areas of minority-owned businesses in the surrounding metropolitan area. A notable example is the stretch of Buford Highway NE, in Doraville, which contains many Asian-owned businesses. Furthermore, the City of Atlanta (2021) encourages diversity of languages as well. Per Code of Ordinance sec. 114-140, the City incentivizes employees who speak a second language or are willing to learn another language, particularly Spanish. Employees have to maintain their proficiency to continue this bonus.

Residents of Atlanta’s quality of life

Atlanta is a prosperous city that draws many residents to move there. The city is very progressive, inclusive, and has many high-caliber economic opportunities. Atlanta is the South’s shining star, a vibrant city with an outstanding quality of life. The city government’s focus on teamwork with private organizations continues to pursue intelligent economic development that benefits all Atlanta’s residents.

As Georgia’s capital, it is hard to miss the compelling statistics on Atlanta’s success as a business hub. Several startup companies or independent developers can uncover Atlanta’s support and resources for small businesses and entrepreneurs. Explore our blueprint for livable urban design and workforce development ideas. The metro Atlanta area is home to 13 Fortune 500 and 24 Fortune 1000 headquarters (Department of Planning and Community Development, 2016). The Metropolitan Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, corporate executives, relocation consultants, and Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms are committed to actively recruiting new companies to the region. Public and private partnerships with business, financial and non-profit communities are key to spurring quality job creation and investment throughout the city’s neighborhoods.

Atlanta’s economic, environmental, and social sustainability

Social sustainability in Atlanta is boosted by many higher education and research institutions in the city, such as Emory, Georgia Tech, Georgia State University, and a few others. There are also smaller community-sized colleges in the city that offer a different approach to help current residents and attract potential residents to build a career (Department of Planning and Community Development, 2016). These large institutions help both experienced and budding professionals build a network and allow them to hone their expertise and unique skillsets for workforce development, job attainment, and career advancement. In return, it will boost the city’s already very well-established economic development. According to England (2017), economic development is very competitive and risky with entrepreneurial and is synonymous with city planning. 

Another effort that the city has brought forth to improve social and economic sustainability is neighborhood stabilization and affordable housing Production. They fostered collaboration between the Atlanta Housing (AH) and the private-sector developers, acting as a catalyst to attract investment (Department of Planning and Community Development, 2016). Furthermore, other transit-oriented housing developments focus on establishing commercial corridors and neighborhood centers. Having a strong, diverse economic base can provide a range of businesses and employment opportunities that meet City residents’ needs. Continuation to revitalize Atlanta’s downtown because it serves as the city’s heart and soul will help ensure its major employers’ vitality (Department of Planning and Community Development, 2016). Economic development has become the strategy to improve the economic base and make the community more attractive to private investments. Urban planning is directed toward activities that support the economic development of communities (England, 2017).

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a national effort brought together by US Green Building Council to lower the impact that the building has on the environment, focusing on energy efficiency and self-sustainability in design (US Green Building Council, 2021). It also has more construction requirements, such as the source of building materials needs to be within a certain radius of the site. Many architects in the Atlanta government encouraged private developers to contribute to that effort, ensuring their design is LEED-certified, with different tiers of certification, silver, gold, and platinum (US Green Building Council, 2021). For example, the center of Greenbuild activity is the LEED Gold Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC) and the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the new home of the Georgia Falcons, and the Expo Hall for conferences and events (Benjamin, 2019).

In 2017, the city council updated an ordinance to include requiring LEED certification for new construction. In 2018, Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, the nation’s busiest, became the first airport in the world to be awarded precertification under the LEED for Communities program. In 2019, the city exceeded its energy goals in the Better Buildings Challenge by more than 20 percent (Benjamin, 2019).

Atlanta’s Non-Wealthy Communities and Past Successes or Future Plans Regarding Affordable Housing

As the largest housing authority in Georgia and among one of the most prominent in the nation, the Housing Authority of Atlanta provides and facilitates affordable housing resources for nearly 22,000 low-income households for almost a century. The city was the first to work on a federally funded public housing project in 1934, called Techwood Homes; it replaced what was known as a shanty town and opened for occupancy in August 1936 for low-income families, primarily for whites. The Housing Authority of the City of Atlanta, commonly known as AH, was formed the year after 1938 (Atlanta Housing, 2021).

The first black president of Morehouse College applied the Techwood Homes model to the planning of University Homes, a public housing project for black families on Beaver Slide slum (Atlanta Housing, 2021). He hoped to brighten the city’s most underserved communities to better the city overall as a whole and aid the Civil Rights Movement. The movement was initially very successful in desegregating the neighborhood, and black residents slowly integrated with the white neighborhood. However, the success was short-lived. The white families started to move out, and when the property was left with predominantly black residents, the racially motivated city administrators at the time purposely neglected the building. The building slowly evolved into slum-like conditions over time. Techwood later is demolished in preparation for the 1996 Olympics. The property, later acquired by Georgia Tech, was redeveloped for student housing (Atlanta Housing, 2021).

Since Techwood, there were a few other public housing projects created. However, by the year 2011, Atlanta would eventually demolish all the housing projects conceived from the 1930’s public housing. Replacing in their place would be mixed-income housing projects, and other federal US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) based subsidized housing. However, HUD projects have a noticeably smaller impact as they were intended solely to provide vouchers to those with adequate needs and an ability to pay the remainder of living costs. Meanwhile, AH now operates and overlooks most of the mixed-income and senior living homes around the city of Atlanta.

Learning from the city’s past success and failure, AH vows to bring more public housing projects in modern ties. In FY 2019 alone, AH has served almost 25,000 households, provided over $5.5 million in monetary assistance, and created over 1,500 units (Atlanta Housing, 2021).  According to the Department of Planning and Community Development (2016), the number of units permitted in Atlanta has increased steadily since 2010. There were 89,781 housing unit permits between 2000 and early 2016, almost 85% of which were in multi-unit structures. These types of units are attractive to one-person households as well as small households.

Furthermore, AH is also focus on green energy in housing. To reduce environmental footprints, AH focused on focus to AH-owned buildings to improve their “water conservation upgrades, weatherization, HVAC upgrades, lighting replacements, and natural gas boilers.” (Atlanta Housing, 2021) Following the Energy Star ratings, 6 out of 10 AH-owned buildings perform better than other public housing nationwide peers (Atlanta Housing, 2021).

The City of Atlanta announced its clean building ordinance in 2015; AH was the first to be compliant (Atlanta Housing, 2021). Each year, AH and many other entities voluntarily report our energy and water consumption to the city, intending to benchmark and lower these numbers (Atlanta Housing, 2021). Furthermore, in 2013, AH joined the US Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge. They were tasked with reducing their portfolio-wide energy consumption by 20% within ten years, and they are on track to exceed that benchmark. At the end of FY 2021, they already reduced energy efficiency by 15%, equivalent to almost $4.7 million (Atlanta Housing, 2021). This AH acts as the catalyst for providing housing assistance to the city, and it also takes housing to the next level to incorporate green energy. AH’s effort and achievement serve as an inspiration and motivation for others to join the movement.


Benjamin, H. (12 November 2019). Green places to see in Atlanta during Greenbuild 2019. US Green Building Council.

US Green Building Council. (2021). Why LEED certification. US Green Building Council.

the City of Atlanta. (31 March 2021). Code of Ordinances.

the City of Atlanta, Ga (2021). The Mayor’s Cabinet. The City of Atlanta, Ga.

Department of Planning and Community Development. (2016). City of Atlanta 2016 Comprehensive Development Plan. City of Atlanta.

England, R., Pelissero, J., & Morgan, D. (2017). Managing Urban America (8th ed.). SAGE CQ Press.

Mosaic Community Planning. (2019). Atlanta and Fulton County Consolidated Plan and Fair Housing Study. City of Atlanta.

Office of Housing & Community Development. (2021). Inclusionary Zoning and The 2020 IZ Report. City of Atlanta.

Atlanta Housing. (2021). AH History. Housing Authority of Atlanta.


City of Atlanta Reflection Paper-Part 1 of 2

State of the City of Atlanta

The City of Atlanta, Georgia, was founded in 1837. Its 2015, the population was an estimated 437,077 (Department of Planning and Community Development, 2016). Atlanta is a vibrant city and promotes sustainability, economic growth, and development. The city of Atlanta has set to ameliorate housing and transportation opportunities as one of the continuous goals to enhance its quality of life. The goal is to make communities better connected with ample opportunities to invest commercially.

The Atlanta Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), the center of a dynamic region, is the 9th largest in the United States (Department of Planning and Community Development, 2016). The city boasts the world’s busiest airport. It is the hub for several Fortune 500 companies, such as Coca-Cola, Delta, Turner Broadcasting, Porsche, and Equifax (Department of Planning and Community Development, 2016). Unfortunately, the City of Atlanta faces many housing challenges, ranging from affordability and cost-burdened households to high concentrations of poverty and abandoned properties.

With such a strong economy, certain counties in Atlanta, such as Fulton and Dekalb, have had rapid growth. A significant factor that reflects the population growth is the number and type of housing units constructed. According to the Department of Planning and Community Development (2016), the number of units permitted in Atlanta has increased steadily since 2010. There were 89,781 housing unit permits between 2000 and early 2016, almost 85% of which were in multi-unit structures. These types of units are attractive to one-person households as well as small households. However, figures and statistics have shown that the Atlanta housing market is where the median home value has declined while the median cost of rent increased. The Housing and Urban Development (HUD) defines cost-burdened households as those who pay over 30% of their income. Just over half of the city’s households are at or above this critical threshold (Department of Planning and Community Development, 2016).

Furthermore, Atlanta has had one of the highest income inequality rates for years. Piranim (2018) stated that Atlanta’s 2014 income gap is significantly higher than any American city. The city’s wealthiest 5% has an annual income of $280,000 or more, which is over a hundred times more than the bottom 20%, making $14,850 per year (Piranim, 2018). Comparing the map of median household income with the poverty rate in 2014, it is evident that a large concentration of households with a median income over $150,000 is in the north Fulton county, while the poverty rate is higher in the west and the south of the county (Department of Planning and Community Development, 2016).  The overall poverty rate has increased since 2010; for example, the rate went up from 22.6% in 2010 to 25.2% in 2014, a value of around one in four people (Department of Planning and Community Development, 2016).  

Many individuals work low-paying jobs in the hospitality and retail sector and spend more than half of their income on rent (Pirani, 2018). The issue of cost-burdened households has continued to be an area of focus for residents and the city’s housing providers, as evidenced in the City’s Housing Strategy and the Needs and Opportunities plan. Atlanta, the heart of civil rights, has come a long way from racial segregation, but it is currently in income segregation. A poor neighborhood is isolated by social class and a lack of transportation options. Children born poor are likely to stay in poverty from one generation to another (Piranim, 2018).

Aside from the housing issue, another downside to Atlanta’s economic development and population growth is the issue of traffic. I-285 is a highway famed for its congestion despite consisting of 12 wide lanes. The city is ranked 11th among the nation’s most congested cities, with drivers losing 108 hours to congestion; comparably, the national average is 97 hours (JLL Atlanta Research Team, 2019).

According to the Department of Planning and Community Development (2016), the city commute pattern in 2014 identifies 181,347 persons in the City of Atlanta labor force, 42% of whom lived in the city. An additional 12.9% worked elsewhere in Fulton County, excluding Atlanta, 14.1% worked in DeKalb County, and 19.1% worked in the other first-ring counties, such as Cobb, Gwinnett, and Clayton. The remaining 11.4% worked in outlying counties. There was a slight improvement when 54% of Atlanta workers commuted from outside of the city in 2002, compared to 58.4% in 2008. However, these numbers leave much room for improvement. Aside from environmental pollution, these statistics are concerning for two main reasons. First, metro Atlanta’s congestion is on the rise, with the region experiencing a 10% increase in hours lost year-over-year. Second, lost hours equates to lost dollars, as shown in 2018, when congestion costs in metro Atlanta exceeded $1,500 per driver, or over $3.5 billion when aggregated for the region (JLL Atlanta Research Team, 2019).

Problems in the City of Atlanta: Solutions, Reasonings, and Implementations

JLL Atlanta Research Team (2019) stated that “sustained, robust regional growth spurred by a business-friendly environment and relatively low cost of living, has made the region a victim of its own success.”

Problem 1: Affordable Housing

The city has concentrated areas of poverty that need to be addressed. The poverty rate has increased since 2010. As a result, Atlanta needs a diverse and balanced housing stock that provides affordable housing, options to meet the needs at each stage of life, a range of incomes and economic situations, and proximity to jobs and services. There is an insufficient supply of affordable housing to meet the needs of middle and low-income households. Existing affordable housing units are being replaced by market-rate units that are unaffordable to middle and low-income households. I anticipate that a challenge to creating a balanced housing stock is the potential cost of creating it. I propose that it need to be subsidized somehow using governmental funding, and I can identify a tax or a fee that could be used to do this.

Problem 2: Transportation

Atlanta is notorious for its traffic congestion on the highways and the lack of parking space. Building more highway lanes did not help but instead worsened traffic. New residents take to the road for work or school; regional transportation infrastructure cannot handle the influx of growth, and the roads experience strain. The city needs to devise and encourage more public transportation to the mix to deescalate traffic congestion.

These two problems mentioned above correlate with each other, where one is the cause that can affect others and vice versa. Proper development of a housing plan, especially near a commercial area or transportation station, can reduce the need for a commute. Likewise, a collaborative transportation organization can reduce congestion and connect the neighborhood segregated by social class, thus improving the development and utilization of mixed-income housing.

Solution A to Problem 1: Redevelopment

Atlanta needs to create a more sustainable redevelopment project. An excellent example from the past is the Livable Centers Initiative (LCI) plan; it focused on transit-oriented development in the city’s planning efforts. According to the Department of Planning and Community Development (2016), the agency, Atlanta BeltLine, Inc., connected 45 in town neighborhoods via a 22-mile of repurposed old railroad tracks that encircled the city. The plan was created to implement the vision of housing equitably and meet the Atlanta City Council’s goal of creating or preserving 5,600 affordable housing units within the BeltLine Tax Allocation District (TAD).  I agree that the BeltLine is an example of how the city has solved a potential redevelopment problem. This redevelopment line and revitalization have been proven to work and can be utilized for other areas within the city.

Solution B to Problem 1: Public-Private Collaboration

The City Council has signed contracts with private developers on projects like LCI, but they should incentivize private developers to bring adaptive reuse of dilapidated buildings. In my hometown in Augusta, the city has incentivized new development for its historic downtown. When my aunt and uncle were planning on opening a restaurant, the city offered a grant to open a restaurant in the dilapidated downtown areas. Atlanta, likewise, should incentivize developers to build on projects that developers assume might not bring a significant return on investments. While most private entities only care about their financial bottom line, the city council needs to educate the private sector on the humanitarian impact of providing equitable housing for many people. Furthermore, I would help developers in their financial considerations before taking on risks doing projects such as these.

The legislation should also steer private developers to ensure that areas around the BeltLine remain affordable and accessible to all of Atlanta’s residents or create a program that motivates residents through tax reduction. To illustrate, the Neighborhood Stabilization and Affordable Housing Production fostered collaboration between the Atlanta Housing Authority (AHA) and the private sector, develops housing that supports neighborhood stabilization, acting as a catalyst to attract investment (Department of Planning and Community Development, 2016). AHA strategized a Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grant, which provided $30M in public and private funding to revitalize an existing public housing site and the surrounding neighborhoods in Ashview Heights, Atlanta University Center Neighborhood, and Vine City. As an added benefit, AHA’s investments and commitments also preserve and protect the long-term availability of affordable housing in Atlanta.

Similarly, I identified a neighborhood in the Midwest of Atlanta called “Blandtown,” which potential for redevelopment as the poverty rate in this area is high. Aside from the Beltline’s redevelopments, a mostly undeveloped area within walking distance would be perfect for this project’s location. Based on my early investigations, it appears that this property is owned by a single owner but is zoned for multi-family. The city planners could design around a mixed-income plan and have it work at the local scale. Public communal spaces should available in between and along the way from residential spaces.

Encouraging housing developments that focus on proximity living also reduces the traffic commute time. Proposal A and B for Problem 1 also directly influence public transit, given the proximity of the site to the Beltline and other public transit such as buses. These proposals have the potential to bring benefits to the traffic problem that Atlanta faces as well.

Solution A to Problem II: Expand Public Transit

After years of experience visiting Atlanta and talking to friends and relatives who live in the area, Atlanta public transit is not being utilized as much because it is not expansive enough to get people to the places they need to be. Atlanta City Council should increase funding for Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) with increased transit access within city limits. The city should develop a balanced, multi-modal transportation system that provides choices for local and regional trips. A proper investment in transportation infrastructure should promote economic development in the regions that it connects. Furthermore, the city should incorporate any suggested changes to existing transit services, facilities, and projects to provide a coordinated region-wide approach and enhance riders’ connectivity. Finally, the plan managers need to create performance measures, monitor public transit usage, and be adaptive to the population’s changes in needs (England, Pelissero, & Morgan, 2017).

Solution B to Problem II: Expand Commute that Does Not Require Automobiles

I would make downtown Atlanta a more bikeable, walkable, and pedestrian-oriented community offering various safe and affordable transportation options, such as sidewalks, streetscapes, greenway trails, bike lanes, and handicap accessibility. As recommended by Atlanta City Council (2013), I would also maintain existing pedestrian and bike facilities and propose future streetcar infrastructure to improve connectivity by creating new streets.

National best practices call for equitable and affordable transit-oriented development to be within one-half mile of public transit. To ensure that the Atlanta BeltLine trails, transit, and parks remain accessible to neighbors within walking distance, affordable housing must be available within the Tax Allocation District. The area is measured from a one-half mile on either side of the BeltLine corridor (Atlanta City Council, 2013). I deduce that people will be more likely to use bike and walking paths instead of using a car if the city makes things easier to get to via these methods.

Reasoning of Solutions for the Affordable Housing Problem

The creation of LCI and other transit-oriented developments improved housing by focusing on redevelopment of the commercial corridors and neighborhood centers. Having a strong, diverse economic base can provide a range of businesses and employment opportunities that meet City residents’ needs. Continuation to revitalize Atlanta’s downtown because it serves as the city’s heart and soul will help ensure its major employers’ vitality.

 I would foster more win-win situations like LCI promoting residential development at new and existing transit stations, which will stimulate mixed-income residential, job creation, and economic development. Deconcentration and segregation of the city can create a chain of issues that turn into social conditions wherein the crime rate increases as dilapidated properties are abandoned and schools become under-resourced (England, Pelissero, & Morgan, 2017).

Reasoning for Expanding Public Transit

Streetcars, arterial bus rapid transit, and enhanced bus service will expand transit options, attract more riders and reduce single-occupant vehicle use (Atlanta City Council, 2013). The large-scale public transportation enhancements and expansions slated for implementation will impact Atlanta’s built environment and change the way people and goods move throughout the region (JLL Atlanta Research Team, 2019). I foresee a positive impact on commercial real estate as well as residential properties. In the near-term, it means temporary disruptions to existing infrastructure as systems are enhanced or developed that during construction may dampen a property’s attractiveness. These improvements will also have a long-term impact as the enhancements and expansions will increase the quality of life, reduce lost revenue due to congestion, and, most importantly, provide better access between people and the workforce (JLL Atlanta Research Team, 2019).   

Reasoning for Expanding Alternative Methods of Commute

England (2017) stated that a way to hold down cost is by turning to alternative resources. Bicycle and pedestrian facility planning, construction, and maintenance are cost-effective investments alternative to fixing the city’s infrastructure or expanding transportation choices. They also have low emissions, thus producing less strain on our environment and improving the quality of life overall in the city.

Implementation of Solutions for Affordable Housing

To revitalize the city center, the Council needs to implement measures to identify abandoned structures that accumulate over the years. HUD in the Department of Planning and Community Development (2016) promotes the development of affordable workforce housing and community development policies and fiscal oversight and management of state and federal development contracts and programs valued more than 30 million dollars.

Atlanta’s remediation strategy should focus on duplicating projects similar to the one at the Ford Factory Loft on 699 Ponce de Leon Avenue. In 2016, I visited Atlanta to see a friend who lived in the loft, formerly the Ford Motor Company’s headquarters from the early to mid-1900s. The factory was sold for development in the late 70s and became an apartment complex. Before entering the building, I saw retail shops occupied the first floor. After going into the main gate, I entered the lobby with resident mailboxes and numerous bike racks. Then, I saw an open atrium where many residents gathered to socialize in the center of the complex, which was lit with ample sunlight instead of electricity. These amenities, such as bike racks and shops, are simple moves that can add value to any housing project and convince potential residents to move in, and that I embolden any housing project to be required to include these.

Implementation of Solutions for Transportation

To bring about an implementation, England (2017) mentions that managers often allocate budgets equally across a city’s political units under developmental and redistributive policies. In 2016, the City of Atlanta voted to enhance and expand those services even further via a half-penny local sales tax forecast to fund $2.7 billion in improvements.

After funding and resources are secured, I recommend that the Council consider prior research as a model for implementation and conduct a service survey for the bus, rail riders that MARTA moves 7.9 million throughout Fulton, DeKalb, and Clayton counties (JLL Atlanta Research Team, 2019).   A great example of a bike and pedestrian plan is stated in the city’s comprehensive plan from 2016. The Cycle Atlanta: Phase 1.0 Study corridors connect to all of the MARTA stations within the Atlanta BeltLine loop and the Atlanta Streetcar. The corridors connect directly with 12 of the 24 MARTA stations in the City of Atlanta (Department of Planning and Community Development, 2016).  


Atlanta City Council. (2013). Krog-Lake-Elizabeth-North Highland Transportation Strategy. City of Atlanta.

Office of Housing & Community Development. (2021). Inclusionary Zoning and The 2020 IZ Report. City of Atlanta.

Department of Planning and Community Development. (2016). City of Atlanta 2016 Comprehensive Development Plan. City of Atlanta.

England, R., Pelissero, J., & Morgan, D. (2017). Managing Urban America (8th ed.). SAGE CQ Press.

Piranim, Fiza. (11 October 2018). Atlanta has the worst income inequality in the US, Bloomberg report finds. The Atlanta Journal Consitution.

JLL Atlanta Research Team. (4 November 2019). Atlanta’s Cure for Traffic Congestion: 2019 Q3 Transportation & Infrastructure Special Feature Metro Atlanta invests $13.7 billion to alleviate commute challenges. ArcGIS StoryMaps.

Leadership Reflection Paper 2

1. In his interview, Gen Petraeus discusses four tasks of a strategic leader. What are these tasks? How would you apply these tasks to an organization (government or nonprofit or private) you are currently working for or worked for in the past?

Petraeus shared four critical tasks of strategic leadership (Harvard Belfer Center, 2016). First, leaders need to ask for their targeted audience’s needs and then develop a pathway and strategies to succeed. Second, leaders must communicate their goals in a variety of ways within the organization. Third, with the goals set in place and promulgated, they must carefully monitor the implementation process. Last but not least, they need to evaluate whether a strategy needs to be revised or replaced. The four steps then repeat until the organization achieves mutual satisfaction among itself or its targeted audience (Harvard Belfer Center, 2016).

While I have never been in a leadership position authoritative enough to implement strategies, I have seen strategic leadership in action at Augusta University, just like Petraeus has discussed. Amid a deadly pandemic, the AU Office of the Provost worked around the clock with the Deans and Department Chairs of each college to listen and understand their needs, all while obeying general guidelines from the University System of Georgia. Then, the leaders developed many strategic plans with the Office of Facilities Operations, including but not limited to, establishing the new capacity of every classroom on campus and installing hand sanitizer stations. Third, the Provost team worked with the Division of Marketing and Communications and the Division of Enrollment and Student Affairs to broadcast the campus reopening plan. There were numerous email blasts, social media posts, website updates, phone calls, and even local news channels to inform everyone in the institution about the new guidelines and plans. Last, the leadership team continued to meet and evaluate their performance by live streaming town hall meetings to keep everyone updated. There were also many quality surveys sent out to students and employees for their feedback on campus safety and social climate. I was in awe to see the assiduous work that our leaders have performed, and it truly inspired me to see what explementary leadership can do to bring peace and success to an organization.

2. What are some limitations of expert power?

According to Yukl and Gardiner (2020), when an individual in an organization has much more relevant expertise in the specific task or career in demand, the effects of expert power will be automatic to the organization. For example, in the US, a team of infectious disease experts recommends a form of COVID-19 prevention, and politicians adapt by creating policies that would favor those recommendations.

However, the limitation of expert power is that the organization is under the condition that others are dependent on the expert for advice but do not have such an obvious advantage in expertise on their own (Yukl & Gardiner, 2020). While the person with expert power must provide information, they must also help others outside of the expertise to comprehend. It is helpful to provide elementary reasoning and conductive explanation. Most importantly, it will have to be in line with the overall organization’s interest. Bernard (1938) said that a person accepts a communication as authoritative under the first and most important that he or she understands the communication. Second, when receiving the communication, he or she believes it to be compatible with his or her interest or the organization as a whole. In the US, for example, wearing a mask is recommended by the experts as it is proven to slow the spread of COVID-19, but governors from each state have different opinions and have made different policies.

Another limitation is that the person with expertise is perceived as the leader to be a reliable source of information and advice (Yukl & Gardiner, 2020). Even if expertise is evident with a diploma or license, perception is equally as important as the real expertise. The individual with expert power who has the credentials to prove this skill must also take time to build more comfortable trust from others. The expert knowledge is put to the test over time, and the others validate the expert power. Thus, it is important to know that time is a limitation, as leaders need to develop and maintain a reputation for strong expertise and credibility. In the US today, we can see that experts from the Center for Disease Control have the credentials for their work; however, the relationship between them and our politicians is fractured after time. It is evident that through this fractured relationship, the politicians have discredited the expert’s recommendations.

3. How does organizational culture influence perceptions of ethical behavior?

According to Bernard (1938), organizational culture is impersonal and not directly stated by the organization chart as this type of organization derives from the relationship among its members. Menzel (2017) stated that cooperation in the relationship is conscious, deliberate, purposeful. Culture has much to offer in leading and building an organization of integrity. It can be a subset of ethical culture as both share values that constitute the overall organization of the company (Menzel, 2017). Leaders understand and apply cultural norms in forming relationships and rapport with others in the company. They tend to contribute to the effectiveness and sustainability of the organization’s integrity. A culture perspective is the most promising organizational perspective to consider when devising a successful ethics management strategy.

Out of all the companies that I worked for since obtaining my undergraduate degree, AU has the most eminence of cultural influence over ethical behaviors. AU has accepted many students and hired employees worldwide who brought their cultural values to campus. Their culture gave them strong but different political reactions regarding protests have spurred nationwide due to several deaths related to police brutality, which gained steam over social media. Reflecting on a diverse campus and institutional values, AU has chosen to welcome the voices from different ethnic student and employee populations instead of oppressing them. For example, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) partnered with the Multicultural Student Engagement (MSE) to host reoccurring virtual listening sessions. They invited the Provost and senior leadership to listen and directly interact with students, faculty, and staff regarding disparity and inequities on campus.

4. How can we build ethical organizations?

To build an ethical organization, we must continuously pursuit ethical competence. I believe that everyone in an organization shares an equal part in building ethics. Still, the leaders are responsible for advocating, coaching, correcting ethical behaviors, and documenting any incidences. If the leadership, especially in the public sector, does not provide adequate coaching or corrections, external outlets will do it for them. When it gets to that point, it will already be an embarrassment for the organization. Menzel (2017) mentioned the term ethics watchdogs, the news media whose mission is to keep track of unethical or suspicious behaviors. 

To put the ethical competencies in action, Menzel (2017) identifies five steps in a repeated cycle. The organization’s leader must have (1) the ability to commit to ethical standards, (2) knowledge of the code of ethics, (3) engage in principle moral reasoning, (4) act on public values, and (5) promote ethical practices in the organization. These repeated steps form dynamic energy for competence. Unfortunately, most of the companies I worked with established the impression that ethics management is solely the responsibility of the Human Resources Department of an organization through the employee handbook. After I finish an onboarding process with a company, the ethics organization was never brought up again. The only apparent way a company maintains ethics organization was to reprimand or terminate an employee over reported incidents. Nevertheless, the leadership from my current employer, AU, has given me a clear view of Menzel’s steps of ethical competence in action and what ethical organization is in real life.

First, AU promulgates a clear commitment to ethical standards as it is listed as a part of its mission. Second, AU hired several authoritative leaderships in ODI and MSE. These new hires brought their expertise that the institution can utilize to achieve a greater goal. Third, the institutional leadership team offers to listen to concerns from students, faculty, staff, especially the minority group. They are also conducting a study to determine the best course of action to address the concerns. For example, MSE issued a Diversity Climate Survey to all students, part of a bigger goal to complete social research. Fourth, collaborative efforts can also be seen in ODI that is responsible for providing grants on research for subjects such as health and education disparities. They also provide proper training on sensitivity, along with many other ethical subjects. Fifth, AU continues to publicize itself firmly as an institution committed to equity and diversity. The Provost team regularly speaks about the institution’s mission for diversity and inclusion at every commencement, new student orientation, and town hall meeting. I must admit that there is no other company that I worked for really focus on building an ethical organization in a way even remotely similar to AU.


Bernard, C. (1938). The Functions of the Executive. Harvard University Press.

Harvard Belfer Center. (2016, April 8). David Petraeus: Four Tasks of a Strategic Leader [Video file]. Retrieved from

Menzel, D. (2017). Ethics Management for Public and Nonprofit Managers, Leading and Building Organizations of Integrity (3rd ed.). Routledge, an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group.

Yukl, G & Gardner, W. (2020). Leadership in Organizations (9th ed.). Pearson Education, Inc.

Leadership Reflection Paper 1

  • What are some ways to become a flexible and adaptive leader? In the short term? In the long run? Explain using examples.

Leaders must understand and become aware of their situation and environment, which will help them identify constraints and demands to make it more favorable toward their goals, according to Yukl and Gardner (2020).

The first step for leaders to be adaptive and flexible is to provide more direction to subordinates with interdependent roles. For example, a leader needs to establish a stable organization chart and must ensure that each member is coordinated. A short-term goal is to plan and anticipate any critical tasks and prepare the tasks for them. Examples include providing a clear objective to the subordinates and monitoring those who are liable for the task. When less time is available to provide support, encouragement, and recognition to individual subordinates upfront (Goodstadt & Kipnis, 1970), more problems will arise with subordinates being handled in a more impersonal manner. This creates a situation where they are likely to receive warnings and punishment after the task or have a performance problem (Kipnis & Cosentino, 1969).

Long term ways for leaders to adapt are to provide more instruction and coaching to an inexperienced subordinate. Yukl and Gardner (2020) suggested that leaders need to discover the weakness of their subordinates and build on them instead of disparaging them. For example, leaders need to be more supportive of someone with a highly stressful task or newcomers acclimating to the organization. Sources of stress may include unreasonable demands (e.g., abusive customers), an uncontrollable environment (e.g., natural disasters, pandemic, and social unrest). People in such situations have more need for emotional support from leaders and coworkers. If people are working with the backing through stressful times, they are likely to succeed and, in the long term, will build collegiality with other teammates.

  • Think about a manager/coach you have had an opportunity to observe. What specific tasks related and relationship-related behaviors did this leader use, and how effective did the leader appear to be?

According to Yukl and Gardner (2020), task-orientated behavior is focused on accomplishing tasks efficiently while relations-oriented behavior forces on building trust, cooperation, and just satisfaction. Due to unfortunate circumstances, I have had seven different jobs since graduating from college in 2013. However, it was through working in these companies that I observed different managers and experienced different work cultures.

While most of the managers that I work with are very much tasks-focused, there are a few managers that focus on both tasks and relationships, which I found very impressive, and watching them leading as an example makes me want to work just as hard as them. My supervisor at the College of Nursing, while very stern and detail-oriented, always worked on building rapport. While I frequently found the amount of attention to detail insufferable (e.g., mandating “hello” in email greetings instead of “hi”), she adequately provided a pathway for me to reach her level of expectation. One of the many examples includes approving funding for me to take technical courses from Augusta University Continuing Education. She also had a keen observation skill, and once she realized what my strengths and weaknesses were, she adjusted the tasks appropriate to my skill. She looked out for tasks that involve creativity, such as designing flyers and photographing for events for Staff Council and would cordially approve my travel request and time adjustment, so I can make it to those events and let my creativity shine.

 However, I have had a destructive leader who was incredibly task-focused, so much so that he sacrificed the working relationship with his team. My short-time boss at Savannah River Site (SRS) wanted to get things done and often time trampled through lawful procedures and omitted approvals from the upper executives. He often got impatient because SRS has always been known for its complicated bureaucracy and red tape. He would request me to order things without consulting with the procedure. As a newcomer who was not acclimated to the SRS bureaucracy, I unwittingly followed his directions.

The goals he accomplished ended up causing problems down the road. The first order of merchandise had to be canceled because it was sent without the approval of a contract. It resulted in wasted time for our vendor and legal issues as the SRS is funded by taxpayer money. The second time we ordered large banners but without consulting the design with upper executives first. We ended up receiving complaints about the design, and we had to take them down, which resulted in wasted funding and storage space. While I got along with my boss well because I follow his instructions as he stated, other members of the team did not follow because of their pre-existing understanding of the procedures. He would become reactive and got into heated arguments, and before long, he was out of SRS. I had to learn all the procedures correctly, and I realized what a devastating impact that my actions, under an oppressive leader, have caused for the company.

  • Think about your current or previous experience as a member of a work or social group. How much influence do you prefer over decisions made by the leader? Does it depend upon the task? What are the reasons for your preference? (Hint: think about issues of delegation and empowerment)

I have worked for both private and public companies and have seen the good, bad, and the ugly. One of the ugly side that I have seen is through a private company’s tyranny of nepotism. My distaste for nepotism grew ever stronger in the wake of recent social movement where privilege is identified, and the impact that nepotism has on other people’s chances for success is devastating. For that reason, I do not think leaders should have much power in the decision itself, especially hiring or firing of an employee. Instead, leaders should focus on their power to empower others to participate in making decisions, but not the decision itself. That will help the decision to be made with consideration from a different perspective and will increase the chances that the decision will most likely benefit everyone.

Even if the decision is for a different task, I often feel the decision is best by a group instead of the leader itself. It gives chances for everyone to voice their thoughts, which will help nurture further leadership and empowerment. However, I also believe leaders should be able to make objections or recommendations to the associates based on real-life experiences. At the same time, I think leaders should continue to be willing to learn and listen to criticism regardless of how many years of experience they have. Leaders are best when they can respect the old tradition but bring new ideas to harmony, especially in such an ever-changing market and social environment.

I learned the downside of shared decision power through my people management experience in student organizations. Through those experiences, I learned to delegate and to provide guidance and support for my teammates. Many times, I observed that other officers often talk about big plans and use the meeting opportunity to shine, but after the meeting, they often forget their tasks or duties. My leadership role at that point is more critical through support and reminders instead of doing the task for myself. I cannot lead if I cannot go through the footsteps of my followers. I often go through with the steps of the associate officers in their shoes. The most influential leader, which, in my opinion, is proven through my many years of working experience, are leaders who lead by example and who are adaptive and open to learning or criticism.

While a leader could easily make all the decisions and do everything on their own, they might not be able to handle customer relations or suppliers or the underlying reasons for underperformance. There are times when the leaders need to step up and make decisions in case of emergencies. Still, the general rule of thumb should be that the more significant influence that the leaders have in the decision, the more they should be ready to accept all the responsibility and any consequences that follow.

  • Why do you think it is very difficult to measure leadership effectiveness?

According to Yukl and Gardner (2020), large numbers of studies on leadership behaviors have been reviewed and analyzed; however, the interpretations often are inconclusive. Many research methods for analyzing research are performed through a qualitative approach, such as interviews, surveys, etc. The evaluation or measurement of a leader’s effectiveness can be subjective. A leader’s behaviors do not necessarily link to a subordinate’s job satisfaction.

Also, while Yukl and Gardner (2020) stated that some studies have linked leadership effectiveness with an objective measure, such as sales goal, profit margins, leadership is only a small cog in the bigger machine of operating a company. Those types of standards are strongly impacted by the surrounding economy, market trends, and public policy. Effectiveness through those measures also has a critical flaw, which is that leaders often perform not based on their personal preference but on the company’s culture or rule. As a result, the effect that is being measured is not about a leader but the company’s policy.

Last but not least, another underlying reason why measuring leadership effectiveness is difficult is individual perception and attitude (Yukl & Gardner, 2020). Even the subordinates’ private life could impact how they interact or feel about someone’s leadership. There are unpredictable factors that make it incredibly difficult for a study to be statistically proven or to identify the correlation between variables. Employees’ response towards a leadership has other influences other than the leadership itself. I have often seen political preference impact the working relationship at SRS. Bias is usually affiliated with each political party. That bias can create a negative impression or an unreasonably positive one without having any relation to the person’s skill or working capability.

I believe that leaders and their leadership are at the mercy of others. This includes their subordinates, the company as a whole, the third-party vendors, customers, partners or affiliates, the market, or the social climate. Leaders play an essential role as they are the connecting points between all these factors, and every leader’s leadership style could vary a little based on their personal preference. A leader’s evaluation should never only be studied from their subordinate’s point of view because of the divergent tendency of their role.


Goodstadt, B. E., & Kipnis, D. (1970). Situational influences on the use of power. Journal of Applied Psychology, 54, 201–207.

Kipnis, D., & Cosentino, J. (1969). Use of leadership powers in industry. Journal of Applied Psychology, 53, 460–466.

Yukl, G & Gardner, W. (2020). Leadership in Organizations (9th ed.). Pearson Education, Inc.

Community Development Positionality Paper


This position paper summarizes the key takeaways from the selected reading and connects them with my life experiences. This paper will show how the context of Green and Haines’s (2016) book, along with other scholarly articles, connects the various ways with the community that I currently live in Augusta, GA, and Taiwan, where I was born and raised. I will apply the contextual theories and terms to real-life examples from my life in order to evaluate and analyze any success or room for improvement for community development.

  1. Environmental Capital: Climate Change Challenge
  2. Human Captial: Healthcare Challenge
  3. Thriving Cultural and Creative Capitals

Keywords: environmental capital, cultural capital, climate change, healthcare, community-based organizations, Augusta, Taiwan

Environmental Capital: Climate Change Challenge

While natural disasters rarely devastate an entire country, their effects are localized and will have an immediate impact in smaller regions (Green & Haines, 2016). In community development, it is common to mitigate the natural hazard, a probability, or potential for damage by natural disasters. Once the risk is identified, developers and policymakers must cope with it by adapting and a focus on minimizing negative impact while optimizing the positive. The US should be the most focused on adapting to climate change as it was the largest emitter of greenhouse gas in 2000. While the US has a very organized emergency response team through FEMA and large non-profits like American Redcross as identified by Green and Haines (2016), the US lacks in prevention and much needed effort is desired. 

As a nation, Taiwan has adapted recycling as a way of life, in schools, work, and residential homes. Waste pick up services and recycling is calculated within the municipal taxes. When I immigrated to Augusta, Ga, in 2006, I realized that recycling and conservation were more of a mellow, optional subject that one could learn more about from non-profits, such as the Phinizy Swamp and not an obligatory subject in the school or mandate from local government. What was more shocking to me is that not only are recycling companies privatized, but some waste services are also. In Columbia County, neighboring to Augusta-Richmond County, waste services are not part of property taxes, and thus landlords and homeowners have to make contractual obligations with private companies.

Community development faces challenges when services are privatized, as for-profit companies do not have the same bottom-line. Environmental capital is an essential aspect for a community to have strong sustainability, which means it must store resources to higher levels rather than maintain them at the same rate for future generations (Green & Haines, 2016). The City of Augusta and many parts of the US are lacking behind in environmental conservation.

Human Captial: Healthcare Challenge

To understand what factors correlate with health disparities, Brulle and Pellow (2006) focus on the need to integrate environmental inequality and its health impacts. They concluded that in order to prevent environmentally related health problems and address environmental inequality, an understanding of how social and environmental factors influence health is necessary (Brulle & Pellow, 2006). With a lack of environmental protection, communities that are inundated are already at risk for health issues from pollution; having limited healthcare makes it even worse. “Although the United States spends more money per capita on health care than does any other nation in the world, the overall health of the population lags behind that of most industrialized countries largely because of persistent and growing disparities in mortality, morbidity, and disability between socioeconomic statuses” (Brulle & Pellow, 2006, p. 103).

Taiwan has established national healthcare for all its citizens, similar to other industrialized countries. While the Affordable Care Act made a historic debut in the US, it only provided coverage for a fraction of its citizens. There are four hospitals within a ten-mile radius of downtown Augusta: University, VA, AU Medical Center, and Trinity. I am confident to say that there are more than adequate healthcare resources in this city. However, accessibility to these resources can differ based on employment and income as statistically proven in many cities of the US.

Nevertheless, such a disadvantage in Augusta is overcome by its local institutions of health sciences. Low-income residents of Augusta benefit from the low-cost services from the Dental College of Georgia, College of Allied Health Sciences, and College of Nursing. Operated by faculty and students, “Associacion Latina de Servicios del CSRA” served many Hispanic migrant workers who do not have access to private health insurance. Also, other non-profit organizations in the area include Safehome of Augusta, which provides shelter and counseling for domestic violence victims, and many religious organizations, such as Catholic Social Services, that provide families in crisis with essential needs and faith-based healing. They also frequently partner with local homeless shelters as well.

Public participation efforts in community planning processes are crucial (English, Peretz, & Manderschied, 2004), but without healthy citizens, a community will not have adequate human and social capital. In the US, the economy thrives with privatization and capitalism, which negatively affects poverty, inequity, and underprovision for public goods, such as healthcare (Fung & Wright, 2001). While Augusta outperformed other cities regarding its accessibility and resources to healthcare, it is nowhere near the level of Taiwan, where healthcare is equally distributed among its citizens regardless of socioeconomic status. Unfortunately, it would be hard for Augusta to improve accessibility issues due to the capitalist approach to healthcare in the US as a country.

Thriving Cultural and Creative Capitals

Even though I have been critical and harsh on Augusta regarding its challenges with the environment and healthcare, I want to commend the city for its thriving creative and cultural capitals. Sen believes culture as a constitutive part of development that brings the enrichment of people’s quality of lives “through literature, music, fine arts, and other forms of cultural expression and practice” (2004, p. 39). Sen also states that cultural activities are remunerative depending on the hosting organization, facilities, and the community’s environment. While the purpose of cultural or religious sites is focused on monetization, the linkage of tourism revenue with the cultural and historical sites is evident. The Creative Class brings specialized skills in music, dancing, and other cultural activities that bring identity to the hosting community (Green & Haines, 2016). In addition, these activities help to attract people to particular countries or regions, promoting growth in population in a community (Sen, 2004).

As a board member of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, I have seen the effort that we go through to carry out our mission to provide fellowship to our members and promote public awareness of Chinese culture and heritage. We collaborated with other non-profits, such as AU’s Chinese Student and Scholar Association and Confuscious Institute, the Goodwill Industries of Middle Georgia and the CSRA and the Greater Augusta Arts Council. We participated in the area’s notable cultural events, such as the Dragonboat Festival, Moon Festival, and Arts in the Hearts. We performed traditional dances, eastern instruments, and served traditional cuisine.

Besides economic benefits, Sen (2004) identifies that even the operation of social solidarity and mutual support can be strongly influenced by culture. We served an educational purpose for many years. We partner with the Richmond County Library, Lucy Craft Laney Museum of Black History, to contribute information to the Augusta Riot in 1970, a result of racial injustice under the eyes of the law. The Chinese had a humble start in Augusta when they arrived as laborers to enlarge the Augusta Canal in the late 1800s. The population of Chinese people in the area prevailed through the bleak period of segregation and racial unrest, which resulted in the loss of many Chinese-owned grocers in the 1970 riot. They were able to sustain through a strong bond and formation of values in the community. This, in turn, is influential in the identification of the community as a whole.

Taiwan does not have a substantial cultural and creative capital as compared to the City of Augusta. It is understandably due to the difference in foreign immigration volume compared to the US for many years. The city also has a unique way of promoting the love of culture outside of typical museums, such as those in Taiwan, or social enclaves, like Chinatown in major US cities. In sum, Augusta could see improvements in environmental efforts, similar to cities in the US. The city does outperform on healthcare comparatively speaking, but what makes the city truly remarkable is its arts and culture.


Brulle, R. & Pellow, D. (2006). Environmental justice: Human health and environmental inequalities, Annual Review of Public Health, 27, 103-124. doi:10.1146/annurev.publhealth.27.021405.102124

English, M., Peretz, J., & Manderschied, M. (2004). Building communities while building plans: A review of techniques for participatory planning processes. Public Administration Quarterly, 26(3), 503-539. Retrieved from

Fung, A. & Wright, E. (2001). Deepening democracy: Innovations in empowered participatory governance. Politics & Society, 29(1), 5–41. doi:

Green, P. & Haines, A. (2016). Asset Building & Community Development (4th ed.). SAGE Publications.

Sen, A. (2004). How does culture matter? In V. Rao, & M. Walton (Eds.), Culture and Public Action (pp. 37-58). Stanford University Press.

Performance-Based Budgeting: Atlanta, GA, Community Development

Problem Identification: Community Development

According to Rubin (2016), performance budget lists what each administrative unit is trying to accomplish, and with what resources. It further emphasizes getting the most service for the dollar. In the Performance Highlights on page 39, the City of Atlanta has noted a consistent growth of its population. Atlanta’s economy remains strong; in the budget of FY 20, it was pointed out that 8,756 new jobs were created that resulted in a 6% increase of permit quantity and over 27% increase in revenue between 2017 to 2018. The growth of jobs resulted in the growth of residents. When people received a job offer that will require them to move, they will be in the market for a new home. The first thing they want to see in a home is good proximity to essential businesses, school district, and a sense of community with clean streets, and that reflects well on the community leaders and fellow residents. While Atlanta noted in their performance highlight that they have seen over 1,408 new housing units created, and over 66% of those units are affordable housing, the amount of new job growth still overshadows the housing growth by around six times.

According to the summary of fund balance, Affordable Housing Funds have not seen an increase between FY 19 and 20. With a growing economy and population, Atlanta should focus on Community development; that is not only including the growth of its housing units, but also their living standards and presence. Plans to improve the general safety and appearance of the community are important to current and potential residents; as a result, they should be documented and evaluated. Community growth must meet its job growth. The city should care about building a healthy, cohesive, vibrant communities, which is a concept to promote a positive state of well-being among people within social and physical environments.

Proposed Goals for the Problem

A performance-based budget shows what government agencies are doing and provide a series of well-chosen benchmarks to tell how well they are doing it to demonstrate effectiveness (Rubin, 2016). My first proposal is that the city should decrease the number of abandoned structures over the years. In the city’s remediation strategy, Atlanta has the plan to construct a new park that will require demolition of abandoned structures (2018). The Enterprise Assets Management division will oversee the disposition of abandoned property (Atlanta, 2018). The city should consider that plan to be expanded the motion to demo abandoned structures to the whole jurisdiction and not solely where the new park would be.

Secondly, the city should collaborate with agencies, such as the housing authority, to develop legislation that identifies neighborhoods with high levels of abandoned structures, whether commercial, residential, or industrial. In order to achieve greater efficiency and effectiveness, Moving to Work (MTW) Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Urban Planning and Development, gave Atlanta Housing Authority (AHA) the flexibility to design and test various approaches to providing quality, affordable housing opportunities and promote self-sufficiency (AHA, 2018). The city should also promote a Neighborhood Watch in every community, which encourages neighbors to help neighbors. It further empowers them to take pride in the betterment of their community as they serve extra eyes and ears for safety or hazardous conditions. With these partnerships, the city should obtain the support it needs to identify areas that need redevelopment for the enrichment of the community.

Last, the city should issue citations against various violators for dilapidated houses, overgrown lots, and abandoned structures, and send court summons for severe or unresponsive violators. The Building Inspector or Code Enforcement Bureau should resolve nuisance abatement problems and work closely on related issues with citizens and city council members. They should also conduct housing inspections and work closely with the housing demolition program. The fines received for noncompliance should help alleviate the cost of drafting the legislation and execution.

Indicators for Performance

Performance-based analysis requires input measures that track the number of resources, money, time, labor, etc., allocated to a department to achieve the goal (Bland, 2013). The city should provide a timeline of a year to try and get violators and abandoned housing under control. To track the input measure, the city needs to calculate how much labor hours and resources that were reported by partnering agencies, such as the Code Enforcement Bureau and the AHA. As code enforcement will issue citations and summons, the city should also keep track of labor hours and resources spent at the courthouses. Any changes in quantities, magnitude, or value of FY 2018 benchmarks are due to normal year-to-year fluctuations in residents, households, or units that form the basis of inputs into the calculations.

On the other hand, the output measure quantifies the amount of work accomplished (Bland, 2013). In the MTW Annual Report, key measurements of success include the number of new affordable units, new homeownership, and dollar invested and leveraged in real estate development (AHA, 2018). A good efficiency indicator would be to see how many demolition permits were issued compared to all the abandoned structures that were listed by AHA. To evaluate the output from the Code Enforcement Bureau, we could measure how many violators became compliant to address to the issues out of the total amount of citations issued.

For the efficiency indicators, I propose the city to minimize expenses for private companies that are needed to revitalize communities, such as demolition companies, builders, landscapers, and other general contractors. It would be wise for a city to standardize costs for the demolition or construction company. This can be done by creating a scope of work with all the anticipated demolition jobs under one wholesale price for private companies to submit their bids. Another way to improve efficiency is to incentivize tax benefit on private companies who involve in projects related to affordable housing.

With all the indicators in place, the city of Atlanta should establish trackable goals and measure their performance in a certain timeframe. As it could be a time-consuming process, from identifying an unkempt property, to working with its owner to address the issue, to planning redevelopment with the AHA, the city should give itself a goal for each phase. An example that I propose for the city is to increase the demolition counts for abandoned structure by 20% for every year for five years, with an aim to redevelop over 75% of underutilized space in five years. The city should further refine the percentage and the time frame after reviewing its historical data and deciding how much budget it can allocate to support the process financially. An unorganized way to approach issuing citations, redevelopment of space, and court hearings can prolong the service time. Document the time laps and identify the area of the slowdown and work ways to improve efficiency.

Lastly, to increase the public’s trust in the city’s service quality, the city of Atlanta could consider issuing a satisfaction survey of the community members, where abandoned places have been repurposed, and violators have become compliant. A survey should be available to the affecting residents over a span of five years to get their opinion on what they think about the changes in different communities and how it has affected them. An example would is to look at the frequency of a report from a Neighborhood Watch; with issues being addressed promptly, the city should see fewer reports on repeat issues.

Outcome Anticipated

Lastly, Bland (2013) stated that outcome measures demonstrate the impact of a proposed spending change on organizational or community conditions that will help those responsible for the budget to make better decisions and increase accountability, such as the efficiency and effectiveness of the government. While Atlanta is focused on providing more housing to its ever-growing population, policymakers should also consider the quality community instead of the quantity for its residents. Community-specific improvement has positive externalities for affordable housing levels and socioeconomic levels (AHA, 2018). As the community enriches, the city should see less in crime rate and a decrease in the number of 911 emergency calls. The city should also see a growth of population and economy as abandoned structures are removed for commercial and residential redevelopment.

With the help of the Code Enforcement Bureau, AHA, and Neighborhood Watch, the city will be able to provide a broad range of public services while protecting the health, safety, and general welfare of the citizens. The partnership effort will further increase the city’s ability to work as a team while setting a leadership example for the community. To summarize my performance-based budget, I compiled a logic model (reference Table 1.) which addresses the balance of the input, output, and outcome discussed in this paper.



Table 1.

Logic Model

Goal: -Enrich the existing community and thus increase the standards of living

-Redevelopment of underutilized urban spaces due to depilated structures

Objectives  Inputs Outputs Outcomes
-Identify abandoned or depilated structures in the city.

-Identify any building that may not be up to date on the current building codes.

-Hold private owners accountable for maintaining their property or ordinance in place.

-Establish and execute redevelopment plans geared towards the enrichment of the community.

-Participation from the Neighborhood Watch to report any unsafe or hazardous conditions.

-Collaborations with Code Enforcement Bureau to issue citations.

-Collaborations with the court and the justice system to fine and enforce violators to comply with code.

-Cooperation from private owners to keep their depilated structures up to code or remove it.

-Collaborations with the Enterprise Assets Management division to dispose of property if private owners forfeit their ownership.

– Partnership with the AHA to redevelop space after the abandoned structures are removed.

-Fulfillment from private companies that accept AHA’s work order to revitalize the community.

-Increase reports of noncompliance from uniformed Neighborhood Watch in different regions of the city.

-Issue warnings and citations to violators.

-Increase permit for demolitions or constructions.

-Removal of abandoned structures.

-Increase the number of fines collected from code violators.

-Increase the redevelopment of underutilized spaces for residential or commercial growth.

-Increase new homeownership.

-Increase in return on investment from housing growth.

-Increase in safety and satisfaction rating in surveys to communities.

Short-term: Fines collected from citations can be used to fund the urban redevelopment or affordable housing program.

Medium-term: With abandon structures removed, the overall safety of the dwellings in the community will increase, and more space can be repurposed, which can benefit both residential and commercial development. In short, it will increase the real estate market value.
Long-term: Promotion of partnership between different agencies, will help the continual growth of community livelihoods and set precedents of future residents and discourage them from not taking care of their properties.


Note. From “Performance-Based Budgeting: Atlanta, GA, Community Development” by Chen, S., 2020, Augusta University.


Atlanta Housing Authority (2018). Moving to Work Annual Plan. Retrieved from

Bland, R. L. (2013). A budgeting guide for local government (3rd ed.). Washington, DC: ICMA Press.

City of Atlanta, Georgia. (2019). Fiscal year 2020, adopted budget. Retrieved from

Rubin, I. S. (2016). The Politics of Public Budgeting: Getting and Spending, Borrowing, and Balancing (8th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: CQ Press.


Healthcare System in the US


Having reliable and affordable health insurance is crucial in order for a person to maintain health. While having health insurance is a commodity in developed countries, the health system of the U.S. is mostly designed under a capitalist structure, where private, for-profit companies dictate benefit packages that are not suitable for all people. In this paper, I will interpret the healthcare system in the U.S from scholarly research articles. Also, I will note the efficacy of the healthcare system compared to other countries. Lastly, I will identify who the uninsured and underinsured groups are and address the way that our government has reformed our healthcare system.

In the U.S., the health system operates in a complex institutional set-up with public or private mixed sectors (Zhu & Johansen, 2014). For Americans covered by the private sector, they are dependent on their employer for the coverage (Martin & Martin, 2011). Private sectors such as United HealthCare, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Cigna work with large companies to develop benefit packages. Furthermore, the government-mandated all companies offer extended benefits without employment, such as the Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act (COBRA), which is limited and often expensive (Martin & Martin, 2011).

On the other hand, there are public sector healthcare systems in the U.S., such as Medicare, Medicaid, or Children’s Health Insurance Programs (Zhu & Johansen, 2014). The public healthcare programs are not accessible to all general public because they aid those who cannot provide for themselves. Medicare is for all citizens who are 65 and older, regardless of income. Medicaid, on the other hand, is a federally established but state-run health insurance program that is dedicated to the poor and disabled (Kraft & Furlong, 2018).

The American healthcare system is not very effective, considering its limited and uneven service to the general public. Zhu and Johansen’s study found that there are significant inequalities and disparities in coverage across different levels of income groups (2014). Both public and private healthcare systems have flaws. The public healthcare systems have a funding structure that varies across states because each state can budget differently on how much public health insurance is provided (Zhu & Johansen, 2014). The private healthcare system is tied to one’s employment, and thus could be instable as the job market and the economy fluctuate (Martin & Martin, 2011). People may lose employment due to unforeseen reasons; COVID-19 serves as a great example as the employment rate is at a historical record high. It is common for those who became unemployed or underemployed to lose their health benefits and default on the payments for their home (Martin & Martin, 2011). Since COBRA is expensive and limited, as previously stated, it is counter-intuitive for people who are unemployed or underemployed. It is common for a U.S. citizen to file bankruptcy over medical expenses, while it is rare for other developed countries.

Compared to other industrialized and developed countries, the U.S. is the only one that does not have a national healthcare system. Zhu and Johansen (2014) have noted in their study from other researchers and conclude that public-public partnerships are efficacious at enhancing equity in public service compared to public-private partnerships. Other private employers in other industrialized countries around the world do not pay for health insurance, because it is provided uniformly by a national sector. Martin and Martin identified that, in those countries, “publicly managed health insurance is typically extended to all citizens and legal residents. Australia’s Medicare, Canada’s Medicare, the United Kingdom’s National Health Service, and Taiwan’s National Health Insurance are examples of single-payer universal health care systems” (2011, p.151).

Aside from people who lost their job due to economic failure or disability, not all companies in the U.S. offer health insurance benefits for their employees; for those reasons, many are often uninsured or underinsured. Since the market systems of the U.S. do not guarantee everyone to have access to healthcare, the government steps in to correct market failures (Kraft & Furlong, 2018); as a result, policymakers have taken a role to reshape American healthcare reform. Both the public and private healthcare sectors were actively involved in negotiations that ultimately led to the establishment of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, colloquially known as Obamacare (Kraft & Furlong, 2018).

During the deliberation, private insurance companies lobbied for the individual mandate under Obamacare. While the private sector helped retain security for themselves as they faced changes in practices and finances (Kraft & Furlong, 2018), their involvement has shaped the public healthcare system. Private health care plans emerged earlier than public programs in the United States. Soss and Moynihan (2014) identified from other political analysis in their studies that state officials adapted in ways that unfortunately resulted in a fragmented healthcare system, which is expensive and its implementation undercuts the constituency for reform while raising the political costs of policy change. Policy reformers eventually were pressured to focus on residual populations left out of private coverage (Soss & Moynihan, 2014).

Obamacare fixes the problem of the variability and inconsistency of medical coverage within states to adopt universal health insurance coverage (Zhu & Johansen, 2014). However, it was still only catered towards a particular group of people like Medicaid. By setting quantitative income eligibility limits, not all citizens who are socially and economically marginalized will be able to receive Obamacare (Zhu & Johansen, 2014). One of the social issues regarding inequity is the infamous Medicaid gap, where people are still uninsured because they are too poor to pay for private health insurance but make too much income to qualify for Medicaid.

In conclusion, healthcare insurance in the U.S. is a complex system that involves both the public and private sectors. While the U.S. has a public insurance program, it is not available to all citizens, unlike universal healthcare in other developed nations, such as the U.K. or Taiwan. While American policymakers have started to focus on national health insurance in recent reforms, future work needs to consider reducing inequality in health insurance coverage directly.





Kraft, M. & Furlong, S. (2018). Public Policy, Politics, Analysis, and Alternatives (6th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: C.Q. Press, an imprint of SAGE Publications, Inc.

Martin, E., & Martin, A. (2011). Economic crisis in the united states: Management strategies for a democratic economy. Public Administration and Management, 16(2),145-170.

Soss, J. & Moynihan, D. (2014). Policy Feedback and the Politics of Administration. Public Administration Review, 74. doi:10.1111/puar.12200

Zhu, L. & Johansen, M. (2014). Public responsibility and inequality in health insurance coverage: An examination of American state health care systems. Public Administration, 92(2):422-439. doi: 10.1111/padm.12083

Evaluating Public Regulations on Private Properties in the Sharing Economy


With the advancement of technology, particularly mobile apps, many consumers can attain services by sharing with other individuals instead of dealing with formal businesses. Sharing is not only a method for people to obtain cheaper service or goods as consumers, but it is also a way for them to make extra income on the side by providing goods or services at a cheap rate in exchange for avoiding industry regulations. There are many apps, including but not limited to Uber, which has avoided taxi-related regulations by dubbing their services as “ride-share” instead, DoorDash for food delivery, and Airbnb for housing-share. The rapid growth of these apps has slowly driven law-abiding businesses out of the market; many taxi services have folded. These apps also have competition; food delivery and ride-share services, for example, have many apps choices. However, Airbnb has become the de facto name in the online marketplace for temporary lodging, primarily through room share despite other similar services.


Keywords: sharing economy, rental properties, housing policy, occupancy tax, policy evaluation, Airbnb



Many cities have seen an increase of rental homes, and concerns about rising traffic and rents, mainly due to the ever-increasing popularity of online short-term rental platforms such as Airbnb (Nieuwland & van Melik, 2018). Wachsmuth and Weisler (2018) believe that Airbnb overlaps both residential rentals and hotel accommodation market. Furthermore, it introduced what they have called “a new potential revenue flow into housing markets which is systematic but geographically uneven, creating a new form of rent gap in culturally desirable and internationally recognizable neighborhoods” (p. 4).

The sharing-economy, especially for rental properties such as Airbnb, is just one example of alternative marketplaces that lower transaction costs compared to traditional organizations in the industry in exchange for reduced barriers associated with entering the market (Leoni & Parker, 2019). As a result, I believe it should be regulated because it can have negative external effects on their surrounding neighborhoods and destabilize industry logging and safety standards. To address this, I will outline the problems and propose solutions from scholarly research articles. Also, I will note the policy tools that will address the problem and provide a brief analysis of the evaluation of the solution.

Problem Identification

In many ways, Airbnb positively contributes to local communities, such as allowing travelers to live like a local and spend their money within areas that do not typically cater to tourism (Kaplan & Nadler, 2015). Economically, one study found that Airbnb guests tend to stay longer than hotel guests, spending less money on lodging, which in return allows them to spend more money on local businesses (Kaplan & Nadler, 2015).

Nevertheless, “Airbnb’s business model has been particularly controversial because it so clearly flouts existing housing and land-use regulations” (Wachsmuth & Weisler, 2018, p. 4), while hotels and vacation rental industries strive to keep up with the ever-changing building codes. A comprehensive study compares Airbnb listings in Texas against the quarterly revenue of Texan hotels; the finding is that for every 1% increase in Airbnb listings, there is a 0.05% decrease in hotel income (Gurran & Phibbs, 2017).

Furthermore, apart from a reduction in revenue from tourist taxes, the policymakers will also see long-term units removed. Airbnb threw off the affordable housing supply because it distorts the housing markets in two ways (Lee, 2016). First is conversion, resulting from commercial investors purchase residential properties to turn them into permanent rental accommodation (Nieuwland & van Melik, 2018). Put simply; long term residences are taken off the market and rented out to tourists. On the other hand, a second method is a form of converting a residential, single-family living space that was meant for long-term into short-term hotels or simply “hotelization,” as Lee explained (2016, p.230). For instance,  16,300 new housing units in New York were permitted for rent on Airbnb out of the total 23,200 units completed in 2016 (New York City Rent Guidelines Board, 2017). Nieuwland and van Melik claimed that “Airbnb activity has negated around half to three-quarters of a year’s worth of new housing supply in the city” (2018, p. 27).

In addition to the economic impact of affordable housing, ethical issues also become problematic (Kraft & Furlong, 2018). The act of renting a room in a house one owns is sometimes considered exempt from anti-discrimination laws (Biber, Light, Ruhl, & Salzman, 2017). Airbnb initially allowed hosts to refuse service as they see fit and, perhaps unsurprisingly, it eventually became an ethical issue for hosts to engage in practices that resemble a violation under federal housing discrimination laws (Biber, Light, Ruhl, & Salzman, 2017). Even though there has been no statistical research on that topic, there are qualitative studies done on racial, discriminatory complaints that have been shared online and became viral regarding private rentals.

All the political, social, and ethical problems that have been identified in this section further push forward my agenda that private rentals should be regulated, with attention paid to their enabler, Airbnb. I have developed a table of a logic model, where I create an objective, list the input/output, and hypothesize the outcome.

Table 1.

Policy Evaluation Logic Model

Goal: -Improve the compliance of the sharing economy.

-Increase the standards of private listings to industry requirements.

Objectives Inputs Outputs Outcomes
-Identify illegal Airbnb listings of private residence-based zoning regulations.

-Identify listings without proper life safety mechanism, such a smoke detector.

-Hold private hosts accountable for the local laws or ordinance in place.


-Participation from the city or the State to fund and employ enforcers to monitor listings online.

-Cooperation from Airbnb to implement policy changes on their interface.

-Engagement from local community members to report illegal listings in a particular zoning district.

-Obedience from the hosts to register the online licensing system to hosts on sharing platforms, install fire extinguishers, etc.

-Increase in participation of the online licensing system.

-Issue warnings and citations to violators.

-Removal of illegitimate listings.

-Increase the number of funds collected from logging tax or fines from the violators.

Short-term: With proper safety mechanisms enforced, the overall safety of the dwelling will increase, which also increases the life of the building.
Medium-term: Lodging tax collected will be an external revenue for the government, who can then use the fund to improve the enforcement program or other public programs.
Long-term: Promotion of equal business practices, which will help the hotel industries from being driven out of the market by private rental on the sharing platform

Note. From “Evaluating Regulations on Private Properties in the Sharing Economy” by Chen, S., 2020, Augusta University.


Description of the Economic and Social Environment

Airbnb had a humble start in San Francisco in 2008, created by graduate students who are aiming to offer a low-cost alternative to hotels (Vinogradova, Leickb, & Kivedal, 2020). Airbed and Breakfast (later became Airbnb) offer a travel method of “couch surfing with strangers” (Lee, 2016, p. 232). For both long- and short-term stays, Airbnb is a unique business between rental apartments/real estate and hotel/hostel industry (Interian, 2016). It is also notable that travelers on Airbnb pay a lower premium than they would in a hotel. They are likely to spend more on economic activities, which will stimulate job growth as Zhang and Chen (2019) have confirmed a positive effect between the proportion of employment and Airbnb supply. Nevertheless, Lee (2016) claims that the city’s affability crisis may easily overshadow the benefit. This platform presents a double-edged sword for municipalities (Vinogradova et al., 2020). Since its emergence, Airbnb had initially enjoyed a period of non-regulation.  Within time, however, the platform and practices drew the attention of policymakers.

In California, especially in Los Angeles, the public housing infrastructure poorly protects low-income homeowners and renters. Many residents spend up to 47% of their income on housing that has an average rent cost of nearly $1,800 in 2014 (Lee, 2016), and the cost continues to swell today. Airbnb, at that time, merely started as a way to supplement their cost of living. Nevertheless, under Airbnb’s facilitation, the residential and tourist markets have melded together on an unprecedented scale (Lee, 2016). This platform’s resemblance to those industries raises concerns on how to deal with taxation, regulations, and ethical issues.

Demonstrating just how exponentially and spontaneously Airbnb listings can grow, Lee’s study identified that six years after its inception in 2008, Airbnb hosted over 11,000 listings while there have only been 97,000 hotel rooms in Los Angles in the period of a hundred years of history (Lee, 2016). The disparity in growth from Airbnb is astronomical between the two.  A similar phenomenon is present in other places in the country. Zou (2019) discovered that Airbnb listings have surged around the end of 2016 in Washington, DC. Considering the events occurring around that time, which included the President’s inauguration and the Women’s March, Airbnb’s listings exceeded 9,000 in one city alone, and most of the listings at that time do not have reviews, indicating that they are fairly new (Zou, 2019). In the area closer to the White House, there were as many as 1,000 to 1,200 listings per square mile (Zou, 2019).

Empirically, previous research from Nieuwland and van Melik (2018), claimed that short-term rentals resulted in property increase or rent, especially in areas like downtown with heavy tourist traffic. Zou (2019) also later identified that the property price premium is transmitted to the rental housing market, which will cause long-term renters to pay more rent over time. According to Zou’s calculations from the statistical data during the surge of Airbnb listings in Washington, DC, in 2016,  it is evident that “Airbnb alone could account for an increase in single-family property price by 0.66% to 2.24%” (2019, p. 12). Zou (2019) determined that there is a 0.64% increase in property prices within a 200-foot buffer in Washington, DC. The study further suggests that unregulated grown in Airbnb created inequitable property price premium that could distress first-time home-buyers and negatively affected long-term renters if the price premium results in higher rent (Zou, 2019).

Externalities of Airbnb have a long-lasting and far-reaching impact on the social and economic environment, such as causing the permanent housing stock to dwindle in communities, especially in expensive cities for housing and tourism. As short-term housing on Airbnb generates more profit than long-term rentals, it would encourage landlords to do away long-term leases and create a housing problem for living residents (Interian, 2016). Policymakers will see gentrification, including a surge in displacement even in the homeless population. For example, the foreclosure crisis in Los Angeles, which took place around 2010, has pushed over 100,000 former homeowners into the rental market (Lee, 2016). Lee (2016) claimed that wealthier residents populated the city that resulted in gentrifying the low-income areas predominately occupied by immigrants, such as Chinatown. In the study by Zhang and Chen (2019), they concluded that Airbnb allocation is predominately in the central areas of cities, such as Los Angeles or New York.

As the popularity of the listings grows, many issues within cities such as unruly behavior from the travelers and noise ordinance claims increase. Many neighborhood councils contend that Airbnb is enabling hosts to violate zoning codes, and allege rowdy travelers undermine public safety (Lee, 2016). Also, travelers take up resources that live-in residents pay for, such as trash service and parking spaces. Hotels, a much-regulated industry, pay sales tax and occupancy tax to its city in order to accommodate their travelers. Moreover, hotels are kept up with safety, health regulations, occupancy taxes, zoning laws, etc., all the while taking a hit on the economic losses due to emerging competition from Airbnb and furloughed workers (Lee, 2016).

Besides the economic impact, discrimination brings a demonstrable social impact, which can contribute to violence, displacement, and inequity. Farmaki and Kladou (2020) also explained that there are underlying increases in criminal activity and mental health illnesses that extend from discrimination. They believe that a qualitative approach, unlike the statistical, quantitative analysis, is more appropriate for a peer-to-peer business model in the sharing economy. They believe, as do I, that this approach will allow firsthand experience and depict a clear picture of the environment in the world of Airbnb (Farmaki and Kladou, 2020).

In the qualitative study done by researchers, Farmaki and Kladou (2017) observed in a series of interviews that hosts have biases starting from just the name of any travelers who sent inquiries to their listings. A name could give a hint on the traveler’s nationality. The host could create more associations with the person’s religion, for example, which all together could become more of a reason for the renter to be unethically treated. On the other hand, travelers might unwittingly cause a problem for the hosts due to being different in the community, from something as simple as practicing energy savings to failures to conform in ethnic and cultural norms (Farmaki and Kladou, 2020).

In addition, Farmaki and Kladou (2017) found that gender issues, particularly due to co-habitation, can be controversial in its perspective. While female hosts consider a safety reason only to accept female travelers’ bookings, Airbnb (2018) considers that discrimination.  It is, hence, another reason why Airbnb is promoting resources online, helpful tips, training videos, and other resources to inform and educate both hosts and guests. Through sharing experiences on Airbnb, many hosts also had an opportunity to interact with people that are different from them and break preconceived prejudices. All in all, it could be a positive mutual sharing experience.

Policy Analysis

I attest that these bursts of the business in sharing economy are disruptive from a legal perspective. The sharing platform economy is evidently destabilizing the industries in which it is gaining traction (Biber, Light, Ruhl, & Salzman, 2017). How policymakers ought to respond depends fundamentally on the values they want their regulations to promote, including efficiency, innovation, and protection of the public interest (Biber, Light, Ruhl, & Salzman, 2017).

A complicated perspective is that Airbnb itself is not breaking the law. Still, according to Gurran and Phibbs in 2017, many Airbnb hosts are violating public zoning regulations and private covenant and lease agreements. Local planners need to evaluate the potential impact of online house-sharing on the potential housing market as well as the neighborhood impacts, including but not limited to noise, congestion, and safety. They need to revisit zoning and residential development controls accordingly (Gurran & Phibbs, 2017). Gurran and Phibbs recommended that “All planning efforts should be supported by a strong policy framework for monitoring the impact of Airbnb rentals on the availability and cost of lower-cost permanent rental accommodations, and ongoing research and analysis to understand implications for local neighborhoods and housing markets fully.” (2017, p. 91).

Airbnb, a leader in the peer-to-peer sharing economy, should be held accountable for unethical practices by its hosts, and the negative externalities that it has on other law-abiding industries (Interian, 2016). The sharing economy is a very new business practice and very dynamic; it is hard for policymakers to create laws and regulations that will fit the business model and update them as it changes. So, how are Airbnb and its hosts classified? Understanding that relationship could help to clarify Airbnb’s position within public policy. Indeed, it is not unusual to equate Airbnb hosts with hotels; however, Airbnb is not a hotel because hosts’ private property is not considered a “public house” (Interian, 2016). As a result, laws for hotels do not apply explicitly to Airbnb due to the fundamental differences (Interian, 2016).

Many could view hosts as independent contractors; however, there is no official recognition of that relationship in the United States, given the fact that Airbnb places very few requirements and restrictions on the hosts for them to be contractors. Similar sharing-service, according to Interian (2016), Uber failed to prove that its drivers are independent contractors in many legal battles, one notably in Massecuites. Uber is banned in many cities outright, while there is no complete ban of Airbnb anywhere in the U.S. (Interian, 2016).

A joint venture is also another way to look at Airbnb and its hosts. The requirements to establish a joint venture are as follows: 1) implied agreement, 2) common purpose, 3) shared profits, and 4) equal control of the project (Interian, 2016). Airbnb argues that not all elements as hosts’ properties are private. In the end, the United States has not been able to define a legal term for a business relationship between Airbnb and its hosts.

Furthermore, both entities, the host and the Airbnb platform, receive direct compensation from the transaction paid by the traveler to providing the accommodation; thus, it is assumed that both are accountable care to the travelers (Interian, 2016). Nevertheless, the Communications Decency Act in 1996 helps clarify Airbnb’s liability for the content posted by its hosts on the website. The publisher, Airbnb in this case, is liable as a speaker since it is either partially or fully responsible for creating the content (Interian, 2016).

Regulation Examples Across Different U.S. Cities

Airbnb-based tourism threatens both traditional hospitality industries and the neighboring real estate and rental market in the community (Vinogradova et al., 2020). In this case, a marketing failure should prompt policymakers to take action to regulate private businesses. The U.S. only has focused on mandating insurance coverage and collecting tourist taxes, yet much still needs to be done to remediate the permanent housing losses (Interian, 2016). A simple tax on Airbnb alone will not likely be enough to de-incentivize hotelization or to fund other social and economic issues such as displacement (Lee, 2016).

From a planning perspective, functional zoning ordinances and effective zoning board play critical roles in regulating Airbnb (Zou, 2019). Studies have shown that revising zoning ordinances can confine and balance Airbnb listings expansion. This can be accomplished by issuing and limiting licenses.  One of the ways that Denver, CO, had implemented to regulate Airbnb by establishing an entirely online licensing system in which hosts self-certify. It was a challenge to communicate it to hosts and to persuade them to comply with the new regulations (Nieuwland & van Melik, 2018). I feel that online registration is the most logical option for an industry that also happens completely online; enforcement officers look at Airbnb listings on the website, which is required to indicate a license number.

For example, through the online licensing system, Denver is treating individual Airbnb hosts as responsible businesses, rather than treating the platform itself as a whole. Signing up on Airbnb to host without a license is a violation. First-time violators get a notification, additional violations due to non-compliance can lead to steep fines up to $1,000 a day, or a complete withdrawal of the license if non-compliance continues after the notification (Nieuwland & van Melik, 2018).

In 2015, Los Angeles mayor announced that the city would levy a 14% occupancy tax on travelers who book on Airbnb, which is estimated to generate about $5 million annual revenue (Lee, 2016). The revenue will then go towards the Affordable Housing Trust fund, which was only $19 million. Money collected from this tax will help fund the construction of affordable units. Taxation deducts the uneven concentration of Airbnb listings in the study found by Vinogradova (et al., 2020). In addition, Los Angeles has also approved a limitation stay duration for travelers; any extended stay will require special approval (Vinogradova et al., 2020). In the study, Vinogradova (et al., 2020) conducted a simulation that noted that a 20-day duration affects the volatility of the market, while a 15-day limit creates a deeper drop in listing counts and should stabilize the long-term rental market. However, as a counterpoint, for example, it is illegal to rent out an entire house or condo for less than 30 days in New York (Wachsmuth & Weisler, 2018).

Airbnb’s website includes local regulations and laws in the jurisdictions that apply to listings depending on their location (Airbnb, 2015). Under its general regulations, Airbnb (2015) encourages hosts to look up any local taxes or business license requirements that may apply when creating a listing; the platform took a step further and created local regulation pages for dozens of popular cities in the United States. These concessions all serve to help the renter ahead of time before issues arise. However, Airbnb (2015) also made a clear disclaimer that does not serve as a formal tax or legal adviser.

Additionally, the ordinance requires all hosts to “have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and a fire extinguisher to ensure guests’ safety” (Nieuwland & van Melik, 2018, p. 10). To mitigate nuisances in the neighborhood, it also demands hosts to display local ordinances on parking, noise restrictions, and trash collection. Lastly, hosts are “required to pay a 10.75% lodging tax” (Nieuwland & van Melik, 2018, p. 10), which is poised to create a fair, even traditional lodging industry standard and generating income for the municipality.

The social issues, on the other hand, also need to be addressed. Americans have a long history of discrimination and reforms through the civil rights movement. The Fair Housing Act was enacted in 1968 to provide fair housing throughout the United States, which means that it is illegal to refuse any person based on race, religion, sex, nationality, and disability. This act has had a positive impact on minorities who have been historically marginalized. Airbnb itself boosted anti-discrimination policy after evoking criticism from several pieces of evidence and persistent stories on travelers who were poorly treated by their host, especially due to racial issues (Ert, & Fleischer, 2019). Before creating an account, Airbnb (2018) requires its users to agree to their nondiscrimination policy.

The platform now allows users to use a digitally generated avatar rather than an actual photo, according to Farmaki and Kladou, in 2020. The platform took measures to reduce the prominence of guest photos in the booking process with objective information (Ert, & Fleischer, 2019). It also introduced an instant booking feature (Airbnb, 2016), that in theory, reduces the chances of the hosts to screen their potential travelers. The platform also strongly pressure hosts to enable a feature on their rental listing for higher ranking host status, known as “Super Host,” on its website (Airbnb, 2016). This status symbolizes an objective trust indicator for hosts to present to their travelers, which has a positive effect on their visibility (Ert, & Fleischer, 2019). Without instant booking, hosts are more likely to be penalized for any for delayed response time. Not only will it affect their “Super Host” status, but it will also be documented and presented on their profile for future, potential travelers to see and make their conclusions before booking (Airbnb, 2016).

To create trust, Airbnb has established well-monitored rankings, ratings, and reviews as instruments to build a user’s digital reputation and serve as a preview before connecting renters and rentees (Leoni & Parker, 2019). Ultimately, Airbnb, in addition to serving as a facilitator, is also the mediator that holds the authority over suspending accounts (Leoni & Parker, 2019). While Airbnb collects an 8 to 18% commission fees from both hosts and travelers (Wachsmuth, & Weisler, 2018), it places closer evaluations on hosts. These implementations to the system would uphold their ability to list rather than the traveler’s ability to book.

The Public Policy Impact

To see the economic impact in Los Angeles, Lee (2016) expressed concerns that Airbnb rental removes 7,316 units year-round in the city, given the city’s low vacancy rate. Even if Airbnb listings stop expanding, it could theatrically take up to 457 years to fund the full replacement with the rate of the revenue earned from occupancy tax. The policy has made a minimal impact if it has made any at all. The rate units are lost to a short-term sharing platform is much faster than the rate cities can build a long-term housing replacement in its place. According to the California Department of Housing and Community Development (2014), a unit with an average of $132 per night for 219 days a year would generate almost $29,000 for the hosts but around $4,000 for tax revenue. If one public affordable long-term unit in Los Angeles is $315,000, it will take over 80-years alone on occupancy tax funding. (CDHCD, 2014).

While larger cities, Los Angeles, Denver, New York, have begun regulating Airbnb listings, smaller cities may not see a similar impact. Augusta, GA, does not require hosts to have a license. Travelers pays 8% occupancy Taxes and Airbnb (2019) remits these taxes on the behalf of the host. I have been a host of Airbnb for a little while, and I have not seen any municipal regulations on the platform. The city of Augusta has been known for its short-term rental market for the world’s biggest golf tournament, the Masters Tournament, for many decades. It may be possible that regulations would be introduced down the road; however, I foresee that it would overhaul the whole Masters rental economy as well.

Regarding social impact, since Airbnb created and implemented guidelines in 2018 to address discrimination issues, the platform still relies on both hosts and travelers to fulfill them and report any incompliance (Farmaki & Kladou, 2020). For the Airbnb’s policy regarding anti-discrimination, there are still ways for hosts to decline reservation requests without affecting their rating. While “Instant Booking” is highly encouraged, it is only optional, and hosts can continue to screen their travelers by rejecting an inquiry or canceling a booked reservation. Understandably, many hosts wanted to retain their rights to select travelers for their private properties (Farmaki & Kladou, 2018). In Ert & Fleischer’s study (2019), the exclusion of hosts’ profile photos from the main search screen has seen an even increase in booking inquiries across the platform, which increased objectivity of overcoming discrimination. Moreover, the “Super Host” status forms a uniform trust in the platform.

Much pressure is placed solely on the host and not the travelers, as they are just as capable as having bias and unruly behaviors (Farmaki & Kladou, 2018). Furthermore, Airbnb’s policy on review and cancelations rating places an unfair, negatively impacting the hosts rather than the travelers. For example, hosts are much more likely to face the threat of a listing removal for a negative review. As a result of the Goodhart’s law, Airbnb listings showcase overwhelmingly positive reviews and thus unwittingly introduced statistical bias as Airbnb strives for information symmetry (Zou, 2019). The reviews are effectively influenced, likely due to the constant pressure to rate positively imposed by the Airbnb onto the hosts, and then from the hosts to the travelers.

Evaluative Criteria

Policy evaluation assesses whether policies and programs are working well, supported by evidence that is achieving its stated goals and objectives. It also involves political judgments regarding the program’s worth and making decisions based on those judgments (Kraft & Furlong, 2018). It seems that the measure of regulation Airbnb is currently functioning at a trial-and-error stage, rather than a statistically proven effective political structure (Vinogradova et al., 2020).

To evaluate Denver’s policies, I need to determine the possible flaws of online enforcement. Airbnb protects its hosts by not sharing the exact address until payment is accepted. Nieuwland and van Melik (2018) noted that hosts avoided being detected by enforcement officers by simply taking down listings during office hours and by putting them back up again in the evening after work hours when web traffic in general increases. On top of that, the sharing economy and the virtual market is very dynamic, with hosts starting and quitting each month, making it hard to keep up with listings(Nieuwland & van Melik, 2018).

To evaluate the policy in Los Angeles, I will revisit the 14% tax on Airbnb facilitated rentals, as stated by Lee (2016). Arguably, Airbnb listings are listed intermittently, and it would take “457 years for occupancy taxes to fund the full replacement of the housing units that Airbnb removes” (p. 245). In the study from Vinogradova (2020), the experiment shows that imposing taxes will result in the removal of unstable listings from the market.

If Airbnb listings need to take full responsibility for covering the cost of the units that it removes, it would require a higher tax rate. Lee (2016) suggested that 21.8% will fund around $25,200 in taxes over four years. The occupancy tax still does not address the overall market increase in rent and continued displacement in neighborhoods. Depending on where the new units are built, it could still be unclear whether the long-term residents displaced by the short-term platforms will benefit from the new units (Lee, 2016).

According to Kraft and Furlong (2018), out of the many reasons governments engage in policy and program evaluation, costs may be amongst the most important. With the policies implemented, the government should have revenue through licensing registration, or the collection of lodging tax collection and violation fines. In return, this revenue stream will continue to fund the enforcement officers and the program. The effect of the policy implemented should decrease in the number of listings after the implementation of the regulations. The strengthening in oversight should deter bad actors, potential scammers, or hosting locations that do not meet the zoning requirements to list on Airbnb. In December 2016, the city of Denver started with 4103 listings right after the ordinance was implemented, and the number dropped to 3768 after six months; it eventually plateaued around 3540 (Nieuwland & van Melik, 2018).

All the policies dealing with the sharing economy in Denver contribute to alleviating negative impacts to the surrounding neighborhoods. There is much more work to be done to regulate the fast-growing sharing economy. The dynamic technological innovation means that the problems of emerging business models will increasingly clash with traditional regulations. Designing regulatory structures that are not only resilient to protect society from harm, but also flexible to facilitate the development of new business models, will remain a challenge for policymakers (Biber, Light, Ruhl, & Salzman, 2017).

Applying Evaluative Criteria to Alternatives

When judging the merit or value of government policies, policymakers should consider multiple options and propose policy alternatives. There are four criteria, in particular, that Kraft and Furlong (2018) suggest: effectiveness, efficiency, equity, and political feasibility.

In the case of Los Angeles, while the increase in occupancy tax could help, there are ways to increase effectiveness. The mayor should also address how to handle illegal listings that violate zoning regulations, unauthorized residential conversions, or discrimination in practice (Lee, 2019). A penalty or fine could be established in Los Angeles, similar to Denver. Secondly, since hosts can lease their property through Airbnb at a lower price point than hotels and thus earn a premium (Lee, 2016), they should be strictly enforced to file income tax on Airbnb transactions. It should be a universal requirement for every city in the United States, which would be a way to help increase revenue for the States as well. The city could also use the fund to promote economic diversity by spending it on municipal housing voucher programs that will spur economic integration.

For political feasibility, policymakers who are seeking to regulate Airbnb must make both economic and value-driven decisions in order to balance Airbnb’s cost and benefit (Lee, 2016). Especially for issues of displacement, Los Angeles should blanket ban landlords who evict or displace residents without fault to become hosts for short-term guests (Lee, 2016). Also, the city should ban renters and lessees who do not own the property to host on Airbnb. The only requirement is written approval from the landlord (Airbnb 2015), which is easily forgeable and hard to authenticate. I deduce that this could also cause a problem with the accountability of property owners. In some ways, it could obscure property damage or enable a renter’s ability to make income from Airbnb with no risk inherent from owning property.

Vinogradova (et al., 2020) suggest that while modern taxation may have a stabilizing effect on the sharing market. To promote equity, policymakers should consider time-based resections that could potentially contribute to a more even distribution of Airbnb listings across urban space. It is suggested that the number of licenses per year should be limited to avoid rapid hotelization (Lee, 2016). Alternatively, the city of Los Angeles could continue to place targeted restrictions on them and focus on enforcement (Lee, 2016). It means that the city should crack down on large-scale operators who manage multiple rooms across the city.

Conclusions and Recommendations

In the world today, the internet has been ever-changing and consumes a growing portion of our daily lives. Innovations of the internet brought creativity to businesses while seemingly making our lives convenient on a surface level. If not properly regulated, the internet could bring a permanent negative externality with an enormous impact. In return, the issues that we will have to deal with down the road will not be worth the convenience. The benefits that sharing and peer-to-peer business brings should not validate the deterioration of the current system.

Furthermore, while the current system already complies with a law that was in place, it should not become outdated. No one law fits the needs of all cities; thus, it is up to policymakers to understand the needs of their perspective city and restore the balance in the housing market. When examining policy alternatives, policymakers must make use of policy analysis, according to Kraft and Furlong (2018). As Interian suggested, “in the absence of legislative adaption, the present interpretation of §230 should reflect the internet’s rapid development and stop protecting content that empathetically violates local federal law” (2016, p.160).

As a company, Airbnb has begun to understand its economic and social impact and implemented a policy on its website. The government needs to focus on measuring the success of their policies and hold Airbnb accountable for any flaws. This will also require Airbnb to continue to update its effort to enforce compliance.

Undoubtedly, Airbnb helps struggling residents to make extra income by sharing their rooms (Kaplan & Nadler, 2015), and it also boosts affordable traveling. Nevertheless, there is a silver lining to foster collaboration between public policy and a private entity, such as Airbnb and its hosts. If appropriately regulated, Airbnb could be a smart path to building private/public partnership that is mutually beneficial. Although the effects of regulation and its reinforcement still need more testing and evaluation, in time, policymakers will find the best way to resolve the negative externalities while preserving the positive externalities that are brought by Airbnb, a peer-to-peer business model in the sharing economy.


Airbnb. (2015). Responsible Hosting [Policy Statement]. Retrieved from

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Airbnb. (2018). Nondiscrimination Policy: Our Commitment to Inclusion and Respect [Policy Statement]. Retrieved from

Airbnb. (2019). In what areas is occupancy tax collection and remittance by Airbnb available? [Policy Statement]. Retrieved from

Biber, E., Light, S., Ruhl, J., & Salzman, J. B. (2017). Regulating business innovation as policy disruption: From the model to Airbnb. Vanderbilt Law Review, 70(5), 1561-1626.

The California Department of Housing and Community Development, California Tax Credit Allocation Committee, California Housing Finance Agency, & the California Debt Limit Allocation Committee. (2014). Affordable Housing Cost Study: Analysis of the Factors that Influence the Cost of Building Multi-family Affordable Housing in California. Retrieved from:

Communications Decency Act of 1996, 47 U.S.C. § 230 (1996).

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Fair Housing Act 1968, 42 U.S.C. §§ 804-805 (1968).

Farmaki, A. & Kladou, S. (2020). Why do Airbnb hosts discriminate? Examining the sources and manifestations of discrimination in host practice. Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Management, 42, 181-189. doi: 10.1016/j.jhtm.2020.01.005

Gurran, N. & Phibbs, P. (2017). When tourists move in: How should urban planners respond to Airbnb? Journal of the American Planning Association, 83(1), 80-92. doi:10.1080/01944363.2016.1249011

Interian, J. (2016). Up in the air: Harmonizing the sharing economy through Airbnb regulations. Boston College International and Comparative Law Review, 39(1), 129-162

Kaplan, R. & Nadler, M. (2015). Airbnb: A case study in occupancy regulation and taxation., University of Chicago Law Review Online, 82(1).

Kraft, M. & Furlong, S. (2018). Public Policy, Politics, Analysis, and Alternatives (6th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: C.Q. Press, an imprint of SAGE Publications, Inc.

Lee, D. (2016). How Airbnb short-term rentals exacerbate Los Angeles’s affordable housing crisis: Analysis and policy recommendations. Harvard Law & Policy Review, 10(1), 229-254. Retrieved from

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New York City Rent Guidelines Board. (2017). 2017 Housing Supply Report. Retrieved from

Nieuwland, S. & van Melik, R. (2018). Regulating Airbnb: How cities deal with perceived negative externalities of short-term rentals. Current Issues in Tourism, 23(7), 811-825. doi:10.1080/13683500.2018.1504899

Vinogradova, E., Leickb, B., & Kivedal, B. (2020). An agent-based modeling approach to housing market regulations and Airbnb-induced tourism. Tourism Management, 77.

Wachsmuth, D., & Weisler, A. (2018). Airbnb and the rent gap: Gentrification through the sharing economy. Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space50(6), 1147–1170.

Zhang, Z. & Chen, R. (2019). Assessing Airbnb logistics in cities: Geographic information system and convenience theory. Sustainability, 11(9), 2462-2473. doi:10.3390/su11092462

Zhenpeng Zou (2019): Examining the impact of short-term rentals on housing prices in Washington, DC: Implications for housing policy and equity. Housing Policy Debate, 30(2), 269-290. doi: 10.1080/10511482.2019.1681016

Perceptions of Privilege: An Inherent Income Inequality



With the advancement of communications technology, discussion on social issues has become rampant, especially regarding the disparity due to income inequality. The existing inequality in income is perceived to benefit the wealthy, giving them a privilege above others and creating a disparity in the justice and education system. The disparity that we will focus on includes the impact that privilege has on securing better chances for advancement and receiving leniency in a criminal penalty. On the other hand, some people believe privilege is not evident, and that it is nothing more than a method for the poor to victimize themselves. The goal of this study is to provide evidence of inequality and disparity caused by unbalanced and unprecedented income levels. This paper aims to explain the different perceptions of privilege and is a conceptual analysis of the following questions:

  • Identify different hypotheses of perception on privilege based on income.
  • Explain the methodology of the research methods.
  • Discuss different perceptions in inequality.
  • Explain the reasoning behind the different perceptions.
  • Provide evidence of disparity due to inequality and its negative impact.
  • Discuss any limitations of the study and any ideas for future research on the topic.

Keywords: privilege, perception, income inequality, social mobility, disparity



Concept Selection

When one group receives additional benefits, another group becomes oppressed as the resources are finite. Privilege is the causation of the oppressed. Bob Pease, a professor of social work, believes that to solve the problem, we need to look at fixing the cause and not the result. Nevertheless, many politicians’ focus has been on what the oppressed can do instead of identifying the disparity caused by the privilege of the wealthy. In 2010, Pease noted that “we cannot understand oppression unless we understand privilege” (ix). He argued that many people with privilege do not even realize that they have it. My theory, echoing his sentiment, is that people who have lower income are likely to see more inequality and benefits for the rich; likewise, people with higher income are less likely to recognize their benefits or realize the disadvantage of others with low income. In this report, we will review the literature regarding the perspective on income inequality, state my hypotheses, analyze data and variables, and summarize the findings.

With news coverage regarding the disparity in treatment between the low and high-income group, it is understandable that many people feel that the wealthy has leverage over almost everything than the poor. According to a study from Louisiana State University, Americans can have different beliefs about increasing income inequality, based on their political ideology and media exposure (Xu & Garand, 2010).

Political influences also played a significant role in establishing the perception of wealth. Policies made by each political party can fluctuate a corporation’s wealth and the benefits for the impoverished followers for each party, which will establish a persistent attitude and opinion towards inequality. John Chambers from St. Louis University has collected may polls and surveys in his research (2015). He noticed a pattern that liberals tend to be unhappy with inequality and often underestimate the chances of social mobility, while conservatives will overestimate conversely. Low-income and minority groups tend to be liberals, and they have general disbelief when it comes to fairness in this capitalistic world, and often exaggerate the disparities between income levels (Chambers, Swan, & Heesacker, 2015). On the other hand, conservatives believe that, regardless of income level, hard work will bring success.

Nonetheless, we cannot disregard the common tendency that wealth brings dominance. When there is dominance, there is oppression. Pease (2013) believed that oppression and privilege not only manifested in terms of accessibility to resources but also is embodied in a person’s character. It also enables them to have a bigger and better selection of resources, such as housing, which will likely be in better school districts to raise children (Killewald, 2013). The children will then have better education, job, and mate selection. Wealth is also passed down to many generations and is a mediator for inequality (Killewald, 2013), which empowers a person to assert dominance over others continually.

We can see examples of inequality through private colleges, which have a historically significant role in establishing the elite class and privileged status across generations. These elite universities are accompanied with great promise for a better-paying career and upward mobility. However, research shows that, even with the same level of intelligence as the wealthy, children from working-class parents may merely be unable to pay the tuition and thus not attend elite schools (Martin, 2012). Even if they do, many will not have the same level of support for tuition and other expenses as the wealthy. As a result, they are more likely to have a job to help pay for college expenses, which will take time away for campus activities and study time (Martin, 2012). Upon completion of the degree, student loans are carried through the young life of the working-class graduate. Education can have a lasting impact on a person’s lifetime. The types of school attended and the amount of debt that accumulated all could depend on wealth. Parental wealth, or wealth inherited from family members can be granted to their decendents without merit. For the working class, money has barred many talented individuals from entering a prestigious school, something that will continue to impact them down the road.

Similar to education, the justice system also has a long-lasting impact on people’s lives, based on income level. Magnus Lofstrom (2016), a professor of public policy, has found that the social costs created by these correctional facilities have a disproportionally more significant impact on poor communities. The inmate populations have been those who are minorities, low-income, or both, especially for the United States—a nation with the highest incarceration in the world (Lofstrom & Raphael, 2016). The US criminal justice system is also costly, whether regarding its operation or for the defendants. Furthermore, Loftsrome (2016) stated that the direct punishment and incarceration of the inmates could have an indirect, unintended punishment on their family. Fines and bail will impact not only the people involved in the justice system but also the members of their household. To explain, when the person involved with the justice system becomes unable to work, it will cause a drop in income for his or her household. Contrastingly, higher-income households have better access to lawyers, and better affordability to post bond. “The prevalence and magnitude of these hard-to-measure direct and indirect social costs have increased and in an unequal manner over the past four decades,” Loftsrome (2016) said. “This has disproportionately affected poor minority communities.”

Recent news has documented the gap in education and the justice system, with mainstream examples such as Brock Turner and Lori Loughlin. Their cases leave a mark on the nation that disparity is real, and it benefits the wealthy. It permanently left the impression that money can buy your way into elite college and out of proper criminal punishment. However, it is not logical to assume that disparity is as prolific as some may perceive. Not all people, particularly those who are economically vulnerable, are equally motivated to rationalize a perception from a larger, national data (Xu & Garand, 2010). Many people tend to build criticism from one or two sensational news articles, such as the previously mentioned cases

Analysis Plan

My hypothesis is that people with lower income have a higher tendency to believe that inequality is apparent and benefits the rich; contrastly, people with higher income will have a lower tendency. On the other hand, my null hypothesis is that the wealthy could also be just as aware of disparity as the poor. Many successful entrepreneurs started small and later became wealthy. They might be able to acknowledge the struggle and the challenges of people with low income through their “been there, done that” experience. The last hypothesis could be no correlation between people’s income level versus their perception of privilege. It is because this perception of privilege may be more evident and relatable based on other variables such as race or gender. I chose to chi-square for my calculation because I am testing two nominal variables. My goal is to see whether the perception regarding disparities is different among different income levels.


The survey data collected in Table 1 supports my theory. The data shows that while the majority of people, regardless of the income level, agree that inequality exists or benefits the rich. The percentage of people who agree went down as the more income increases. There are over 75% of people who make less than $25,000 a year who agree there is inequality, while only 58% of the people with higher income concur with it. The chi-square value is significant (<.05); the p-value is .015, and thus we reject the null hypothesis that there is no significant difference between the specified income level.

[Insert Table Here]


The American dream is a notion that any individual can succeed with hard work and perseverance (Chambers, Swan, & Heesacker, 2015). Nevertheless, more and more people are starting to think that America is no longer the land of opportunities envisaged by its founders. Xu’s research (2010), published in the Social Science Quarterly, discovered that incomes have apparent growth at a faster rate for individuals at higher income percentiles in the United States; for example, the top 0.1 percent is accounted for a significant amount of the entire country’s wealth. Such a difference in income level has a direct effect on an individual’s perceptions of rising income inequality (Xu & Garand, 2010).

Although Americans differ in their perceptions of rising inequality, income inequality in the United States has been evident, as well as the disparity caused by it. Nonetheless, attitudes toward inequality are often more emotionally than logically charged. Chambers had stated that liberals, with greater pessimism about the general economy, exaggerate income disparities; Xu also suggested that “low-income Americans will be most sensitive to a higher level of income inequality” (Xu & Garand, 2010, p. 1227). Thus we can safely assume that if the perceptions do not refer to larger-scale data and studies, it is likely not the reality. On the other hand, we should not just discredit the perception entirely. “To what extent can we charge those who are oppressed who are not doing enough to challenge their oppression, while those who are privileged to acknowledge the role they play in the oppression?” (Pease, 2010, p. 5).

To conclude, collecting a survey on people’s perception is easy; the data from the survey in the table supported my hypothesis that people with higher income have a lower agreement with the existence of disparity. However, it is difficult to find a balance between perceptions and disparities, and many other variables can skew the data on perception. In addition to income, the race and political affiliation of a person all played a role in shaping perspectives. A future study could research the amount of impact each has on forming the opinion, which will help to rationalize the solution behind the emotionally-charged perception from the poor, or emotionally-detached perception from the wealthy.


Chambers, J., Swan, L., & Heesacker, M. (2015). Perceptions of US social mobility are divided (and distorted) along ideological lines. SAGE Journals, 26(4), 413–423. doi:10.1177/0956797614566657

Killewald, A. (2013). Return to being back, living in the red: A race gap in wealth that goes beyond social origins. SpringerLink, 50(4), 1177-1195. doi:10.1007/s13524-012-0190-0

Lofstrom, M. & Raphael, S. (2016). Crime, the criminal justice system, and socioeconomic

inequality. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 30(2), 103-126. Retrieved from

Martin, N. (2012). The privilege of ease: Social class and campus life at highly selective, private universities. SpringerLink, 53(4), 426-452.

Pease, B. (2010). Undoing Privilege: Unearned Advantage in a Divided World. London, England: Zed Books.

Xu, P. & Garand, J. (2010). Economic context and Americans’ perceptions of income inequality. Social Science Quarterly, 91(5), 1220-1241.

Table 1.

Agreement on Inequality Based on Income Level

Does Inequality Exist or Benefits the Rich? Respondents Income Level
$25k $25k – $50k $50k Total
Agree Count 101 66 67 234
% within income level 75.4% 64.7% 58.3% 66.7%
Disagree Count 33 36 48 117
% within income level 24.6% 35.3% 41.7% 33.3%
Total Count 134 102 115 351
% within income level 100% 100% 100% 100%
Chi-Square Test Value df Asymptotic Significance (2-sided)
Pearson Chi-Square 8.404 2 .015
Likelihood Ratio 8.519 2 .014
Linear-by-Linear Association 8.235 1 .004
N of Valid Cases 351

Note. From “gss08pfp-b” by M. Lizotte, 2019, Augusta University.

The Cause and Effect of Gentrification in Developed US Cities


This study will review the cause of gentrification and its positive and negative impact on urban development. In many developed cities in the US, the cost of home skyrocketed due to many reasons. One reason being the growth of high paying jobs from many conglomerate corporations. My approach will focus on the increase in property value and the displacement in major US cities. I will analyze the benefits of growth and development but also review the negative impact on social and income inequity. In this report, we will review the literature regarding the perspective on displacement due to gentrification in America. This paper is a conceptual analysis with the following purpose:

  • Analyze the positive impact of revitalization and the negative impact gentrification in states with rapid urban development.
  • Introduce and interpret “gentrification.”
  • Explain the public administration’s role in dealing with the negative impact of gentrification.
  • Conclude major findings in the literature and public administration overall.


Keywords: gentrification, displacement, urban development, revitalization, inequity in housing, social segregation, income gap

Urban development and revitalization bring benefits and advancement for many communities if done correctly. Retail development can revitalize corridors and service an attraction for further public and private development. The benefit of these developments also raises local and state tax revenues, with minimal expenditures (Chapple & Jacobus, 2018). Successful commercial development can make a low-income neighborhood more attractive and desirable for others, which will turn into a mixed-income neighborhood that introduces diversity. Furthermore, it can trigger an increase in property values, create jobs, and promote entrepreneurship.

Proponents of retail development programs cite a wide range of sometimes conflicting reasons as sometimes revitalization leads to the displacement of lower-income households. This happens most commonly in cities rather than the suburbs as most of the homes are rented, not owned. New middle and upper-income residents are able to afford a higher rent; landlords who see the opportunity, typically driving out lower-income renters. Segregation between home-renters and home-owners increased in most metropolitan areas (Owens, 2019).

Gentrification has many negative connotations with it; as a metaphor, the word serves as a synonym that comes with a sense of danger and allusion that undermines living security (Redfern, 2003). Social class plays a major role in gentrification; gentrifiers, those who come into an already inhabited place by turning it into a place of their own. Scholars have devoted volumes to analyzing neighborhood decline, subsequent revitalization, and gentrification as a result of government, market, and individual interventions

Incumbent upgrading for commercialization and urban development catalyzes existing residents to make improvements. They may stay and reap the benefits of neighborhood revitalization, whereas, in gentrification, they can be displaced as the social and economic environment shifts (Zuk, Bierbaum, Chapple, Gorska, & Loukaitou-Sideris, 2018). Income inequality has been increasing in the United States in recent decades. In the early 2000s, the income, after adjusted for inflation, of the bottom 20% Americans increased only by 12%, while that of the top 20% Americans grew by about 67% (Watson, 2007). As socioeconomic segregation increases, it contributes to the increase in advantages of the dominant group and disadvantages of the oppressed (Quillian & Lagrange, 2016).

Chiara Valli’s qualitative research study (2015) documents the displacement induced by gentrification. She believes exploring the experience of low-income and long-time resident of a gentrifying neighborhood, we can truly understand what displacement really is and the economic and social inequalities behind it. A result of gentrification is displacement. The word displacement, in addition to the act of losing space, comes with an emphasis from those who are losing a sense of security and options; it also highlights their anxiety (Redfern, 2003).

“When I say you can SEE the gentrification, I mean you can see it in the prices, the clothing people wear, the things people talk about,” one of the interviewees from Valli’s research (2015) said.

“I’m losing my home because I don’t make enough to live here, because there are people who have more money than me,” said another interviewee. “I don’t mean anything; my likes and what I think don’t have a place at the table anymore.”

There are over 50 metropolitan areas with a population of more than 1 million in the United States (Quilliam & Lagrange, 2016). Overall, there is substantially large statistical support of income segregation in American cities. Low-income neighborhoods are disproportionately located in cities, while, on average, suburbs are more affluent. Many gentrification studies have been most commonly conducted in New York, Chicago, Boston, and San Francisco (Chapple & Jacobus, 2018). Based on the Census data, the evidence of the extent of housing segregation can be seen by type and by cost at multiple geographic scales in large metropolitan areas in the United States. An article in GeoJournal has found a positive correlation between segregation and morality for the U.S. metropolitan area, and that income segregation could not be considered in isolation from income inequality; it is in fact, income inequality provides the propensity for segregation (Ross, Nobrega, & Dunn, 2001).

California’s housing market is so large that it now accounts for a third of the nation’s housing market value. However, not all existing residents can keep up with the market increase. In San Mateo County, tenants report abuse and harassment from landlords prior to being evicted and priced out by market forces. Approximately a third of the displaced households reported homelessness or marginal housing in neighborhoods with fewer job opportunities and longer commute in the next two years (Marcus & Zuk, 2017). Orange county itself accounts for over 5,000 homeless people.

In 1981, National Institute of Advanced Studies published a survey on current and former residents at a rapidly revitalized neighborhood in San Francisco; researchers find that “from 1975 to 1979, the displaced population was more likely to be African American, less educated, poor, renters, elderly or with disability, and living alone in comparison to in-movers and residents who stay.”

Ann Owen, associate professor of Sociology, finds that similar situations can be seen in New York, the Empire State, as well. New York metropolitan areas have among the highest levels of housing segregation by type, three to five times higher than in the least segregated metropolitan areas, At the border of Queens lies a neighborhood called Bushwick, where one third of the population lives below poverty level with an overwhelming percentage of minorities and only 17% whites (Valli, 2016). This is due to the increase in housing prices at the end of the 1990s, and the nearby neighborhoods went through gentrification, where people with higher income took over and low-income residents were displaced to Bushwick.

Nevertheless, gentrification is happening again in New York, according to Valli (2015). In the early 2000s and more noticeability around 2016, the gentrification started with the opening of businesses and restaurants attracted people who seek in the latest trends. To accommodate them, warehouses were converted into apartments and new condos, even luxury ones, were built (Valli, 2016). To put it in perspective, a studio in Bushwick was $1,700 in 2013 and has increased to $2,300 in 2014. Even the veteran real estate agents deemed the price increase as abnormal. Valli identifies the displacements from the trend in the housing market, which creates pressures on long-time residents.

Policymakers in economically distressed metropolitan areas should be concerned about the effects of over revitalization and segregation due to income equality, including but not limited to the decline of older cities and perpetuation of poverty. Policies that reduce income inequality can help reduce overbuilding and income segregation in distressed areas (Watson, 2007). Moreover, growing disparities between the rich and the poor skew political influences, where the rich and the dominant group can be heard while voice for the public support and advocacy for low and moderate-income people diminishes. This results in inadequate and skewed investment in human capital, and declining affordability of housing for poor and middle-income households.

Researchers have examined “how zoning laws contribute to income segregation. Income segregation is lower in areas with higher population density and high-density development patterns, suggesting that zoning laws that facilitate these patterns reduce segregation” (Owens, 2019). In addition, the office of policy and development research from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has listed a few ways in their January 2017 report. Table 1 is divided into four sections that give context to these solutions: Table 1

Insights into Housing and Community Development Policy

Key Strategies Description of Policy Tools
Preserve existing affordable housing Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD), approved by Congress in 2013, could help the private market invest in decent, safe, and affordable housing. The goal is to give public housing agencies a tool to preserve and improve public housing properties by moving units from the public housing program to a more stable funding platform, such as long-term project-based Section 8 contracts like project-based vouchers or project-based rental assistance.
Encourage greater housing development and affordable housing Issues of affordability are widespread and reach beyond the “hottest” coastal markets and gentrifying neighborhoods. Federal and local policies that incentivize greater development of housing can ease pressures on overall housing affordability.
Engage existing community residents As neighborhood change can often take place without regard for the concerns and requests of existing residents, recognizing that housing affordability and residential displacement are not the only concerns and seeking the active participation of residents could capture the buy-in of residents and ensure that other coping strategies are successful.
Take a broader look and using regional, rather than localized, strategies Effective tools will focus on regional coordination, looking above the neighborhood level and beyond housing. The federal government could be particularly helpful in encouraging regional cooperation and coordinating with multiple agencies on issues such as transportation and education.

Note. From “Insights into Housing & Community Development Policy” (pp. 1-2). by the Office of Policy Development and Research. Copyright 2017 by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

To summarize, revitalizing a neighborhood can bring an increase in market value and promote businesses, but excessively, it can lead to gentrification. Although the displacement discussion in the United States began with the role of the public sector and now has returned to the same focus as most studies agree that gentrification at a minimum leads to exclusionary displacement (Zuk et. al., 2018). Table 2 contains suggested questions that will better address the needs of policymakers, community activists for researchers. It is important to improve the body of research related to public investments, gentrification, and displacement. In some cases, this will need both new data sets and scientific methods, such as Owen’s study; whereas in other cases, it will involve more qualitative methods and measures, such as Valli’s study.

Table 2.

Future Research Questions for the Role of Public Investment on Gentrification and Displacement

1.     How do different types of public investments influence not only neighborhood change but also residential and commercial displacement?

a.     Does the type or quantity of investment matter?

b.     What are the displacement impacts of different forms of public investment and action, not only fixed-rail transit but also streetscape improvements and rezoning, among others?

c.     How does timing matter from early planning phases to investment and implementation?

d.     What is the impact of market-rate versus subsidized housing production at the neighborhood and regional scale?

2.       How do public investments impact commercial change, specifically related to small businesses, employment patterns, affordability of goods and services, and change in clientele? How does this relate to residential change?
3.       What are the social, economic, and health impacts of gentrification and residential displacement?
4.       What can planners and policymakers do to mitigate residential displacement? Which types of anti-displacement strategies are most effective?

Note. From “Gentrification, Displacement, and the Role of Public Investment” (p. 44), by M. Zuk et. al. Copyright 2017 by the Journal of Planning Literature.

Until the methodological challenges and these additional research questions are addressed, these researches on gentrification and displacement will prompt no actions from policymakers and only have limited application in proper revitalization and stabilization of neighborhoods to prevent gentrification. Although perhaps not a silver bullet, research addressing those questions can shed light on reducing housing segregation and developing adequate housing policy.


Chapple, K., & Jacobus, R. (2008). Retail Trade as a Route to Neighborhood Revitalization. In M. Turner, H. Wial, & Wolman, H. (Eds.), Urban and Regional Policy and Its Effects. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.

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