Palmer project offers case study for Quad Cities Fair Housing Symposium

DAVENPORT, Iowa -- The intersection at 12th and Pershing is at a real crossroads these days.

A decade-long expansion at Palmer College is promising renewed energy for a blighted area. The impact, though, could displace nearly 100 residents.

"Typically, they do not get moved to high opportunity neighborhoods where they have access to jobs and transportation," warned fair housing expert Richard Rothstein, on Friday, April 27.

Inside the Quad Cities Fair Housing Symposium, Rothstein, who authored "The Color of Law," detailed a forgotten history of housing segregation across the United States.

"There were racially explicit policies imposed by the local, state and federal government," he said, before about 100 participants at the RiverCenter.

Palmer's $50-million project offers more classroom space, student housing and athletic fields. But near 12th and Pershing, there's fear of forcing out low-income families.

"We have to think through how it's going to impact the community," said Davenport Civil Rights Director Latrice Lacey. "Figure out what the best way is to move forward, rather than just hoping everything will work out."

Community leaders are getting a wake-up call. That means listening to those without a voice.

For this neighborhood, planning now will be crucial for future success. It's success for the area's most vulnerable residents.

"We have to work extremely hard to make sure that in our growth and forward movement that we're not stepping over our citizenry," said Rev. Dwight Ford, Grace City Church.

At this intersection, there's a real crossroads over fair housing and college expansion.