In a column for The Washington Post’s popular “Wonkblog,” Emily Badger covers Sherrilyn Ifill‘s remarks at a recent discussion at the Economic Policy Institute on housing and poverty.

“The most important fact we rarely admit in talking about segregation and poverty” highlights Sherrilyn’s thesis that “when it comes to housing and race, there really is no such thing as chance or accident.”

“[Ifill] was speaking this week at a discussion on concentrated neighborhood poverty hosted by the Economic Policy Institute. And what she means by this is that suburbs didn’t become predominantly white and upper income thanks solely to market forces and consumer preferences. Inner city neighborhoods didn’t become home to poor minority communities purely through the random choices of minorities to live there. Economic and racial segregation didn’t just arise out of the decisions of millions of families to settle, by chance, here instead of there.

The geography that we have today — where poverty clusters alongside poverty, while the better-off live in entirely different school districts — is in large part a product of deliberate policies and government investments. The creation of the Interstate highway system enabled white flight. The federal mortgage interest deduction subsidized middle-income families buying homes there. For three decades, the Federal Housing Administration had separate underwriting standards for mortgages in all-white neighborhoods and all-black ones, institutionalizing the practice of “redlining.” That policy ended in the 1960s, but the patterns it reinforced didn’t end with it.”

Click here to read the full article.

Click here to watch a video of the panel at the Economic Policy Institute.