Note — Jun 14, 2020

Our Cities only Serve the Wealthy. Coronavirus Could Change That

Cities are unequal, and the impacts of Covid-19 have been unequal in the same ways, they need to learn the lessons of this crisis and rethink urban space to reduce inequality, stop catering to the wealthy, and be better prepared in the future.

These twin emergencies – novel coronavirus and racist state violence – have highlighted the brutality of contemporary urban inequality. […]

Urban space has been optimised for rent extraction, real estate speculation and gentrification. Governments have pursued private sector profitability and deferred to middle-class tastes, and have been lauded by urbanists for doing so – all while allowing the deterioration of social services and public institutions and the intensification of inequality. […]

[T]hey must become more egalitarian, more democratic, and more capable of meeting actual human needs. Urban development should focus on the provision of social welfare, health infrastructure, municipal services, decarbonised public transportation, real racial equality and guaranteed housing for all. […]

Some cities acted swiftly to house the homeless, halt evictions, adjust traffic patterns and provide necessary health care. The reaction to the pandemic shows that the structures sustaining the unequal city are movable – and can be altered faster than had been assumed.