Federal Role in Revitalizing Older Communities


The Brookings Institition released a report last week by Alan Mallach (Senior Fellow) entitled Facing the Urban Challenge: The Federal Government and America’s Older Distressed Cities. The report focuses on the federal role in helping out former industrial powerhouses that have been losing populations and jobs since the end of World War II, triggered by “suburban flight, deindustrialization and automobile-oriented sprawl.”

While some cities have rebounded, others continue to struggle today. The report stresses that these cities should focus on the goals of: strengthening core areas by building on key assets, preserving viable residential neighborhoods and housing, and identifying long-term “non-traditional and green uses” for vacant/abandoned lots and buildings.

Mallach argues that the federal government needs to play a stronger role in passing policies that help distressed communities achieve these goals. His recommendations for the federal government include:

  • Providing support for new comprehensive planning efforts.
  • Helping cities plan and carry out land management strategies.
  • Pursuing opportunities for investment in transformative projects and already-established assets.
  • Expanding the Neighborhood Stabilization Program.
  • Focusing on retaining middle income households within these cities.

Overall, the message that I received from the report is that there is an absence of a coherent strategy and lack of coordination on the federal level for assisting distressed municipalities. Federal policies that promote more comprehensive land-use planning (and reward regions that participate in such planning efforts) would go a long way in providing the tools that some of these municipalities need to bounce back.

You can read the full report on the Brookings website. If you’re interested in keeping up to date on all news related to land-use planning, make sure to join our e-mail list by visiting RenewLV’s Join Us page.

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About Beata Bujalska

Beata Bujalska is the former Campaign Coordinator for Renew Lehigh Valley. She currently lives in Panama, a place that fascinates her due to (among other reasons) its recent development boom.

Posted on May 26, 2010, in Housing, Municipal Government, Neighborhoods, Regions, Trends, Urbanism and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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