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The poor are not randomly distributed throughout the American metropolis. Within any metropolitan area, some political subdivisions–usually but not always the "central city"–contain a greater than average concentration of residences of the poor, while other political subdivisions–usually but not always the "suburbs"–contain a lower than average concentration. This phenomenon, which we shall call income group clustering, is thought by inany observers to be highly undesirable for many reasons. It is seen as a symptom of social disorder, as an indication that constitutional norms are being violated, and as an obstacle to the realization of widely held public policy goals. Consequently, litigation and legislative efforts have been mounted to reduce the degree of income group clustering. A major target of the effort has been suburban land use controls, alleged to be a cause of clustering. The attack has led to judicial consideration of the equal protection issues involved, and has inspired several policy proposals currently under debate.

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