Mapping Opportunity: A Critical Assessment

Eli Knaap, Gerrit-Jan Knaap, and Chao Liu

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A renewed interest has emerged on spatial opportunity structures and their role in shaping
housing policy, community development, and equity planning. To this end, many have tried
to quantify the geography of opportunity and quite literally plot it in a map. In this paper
we explore the conceptual foundations and analytical methods that underlie the current
practice of opportunity mapping. We find that opportunity maps can inform housing policy
and metropolitan planning but that greater consideration should be given to the variables
included, the methods in which variables are geographically articulated and combined, and
the extent to which the public is engaged in opportunity mapping exercises.