Q: Is It Time to Bury Racially Loaded Planning and Development Terms?

An illustration of a headshot that has racially loaded terms enscribed on it. Surrounding the tombstone are reasons why these terms should not be used.

A: Yes! One of the ways that implicit racial bias is reinforced is through loaded language. Shelterforce has gathered some racially loaded terms that are common in our field. We suggest you use these sparingly and carefully, if at all. We acknowledge that it’s not always easy to find replacements—usually the best answer is “spell out what you actually mean.”

Feel free to print and distribute! Click on the image above to download a PDF of The Answer.

Shelterforce is the only independent, non-academic publication covering the worlds of community development, affordable housing, and neighborhood stabilization.


  1. Interesting, with the changes in many urban areas of gentrification or surgence of hipsters and seniors moving into these communities does “urban” have the same meaning?

  2. Say what you mean and mean what you say? Ok, black poverty is alive and doing very well because organizations that have a direct pipeline to unlimited resources but limited know-how and understanding of black poverty have historically undermined and justifiably withheld opportunity for grass root nonprofits within the impoverished community. Their understanding of economic development is to entice investors to build “low income housing” utilizing out of state labor and creating a product not attainable by those their intentions claim to help. Gentrification is a good process, the problem is that the whole process is not being implemented. In 1968 congress established The fair Housing Act, Section 3, and Section 504 http://www.hudexchange.info It’s time to incorporate the positive impact of gentrification by inclusion of grass root nonprofits within impoverished communities with unlimited resources to do the necessary work for themselves and their Cultural Heritage. “Those you trusted 27 years ago to get the job done must be fired.” (unless you’re just as crazy as them)


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