Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Neighborhoods Matter

"..[T]he Pew research found that no other factor, including parents' education, employment, or marital status, was as important as neighborhood poverty in explaining why black children were so much more likely to lose income as adults."

Alec MacGillis, "Neighborhoods Key to Future Income, Study Finds," The Washington Post, July 27, 2009.

This new research follows on Pew's findings of several years ago that children of many black middle-class families lost income and assets as adults relative to their parents. So, what is it about neighborhoods? The quality of schools? Segregation?
The quality of life in neighborhoods with at least 20 percent living in poverty?

The authors of the report don't say conclusively. Yet they are quick to jump on President Obama's idea for Promise Neighborhoods modeled on the Harlem Children's Zone rather than poverty dispersal through housing vouchers.

For close to fifty years we've tried a variety of place-based strategies for improving poor neighborhoods. The results have been modest. In the past 10-15 years, many advocates have turned to regional equity strategies, including building mixed-income neighborhoods in the suburbs. Pew's research will be interepreted as supporting both kinds of strategies -- and probably that's what we need.

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