The Link Between Poverty and Urban Policy


Willy Staley of Next American City comments on (Slate writer) Timothy Noah’s articles on the topic of income inequality in America, specifically focusing on the the connection between income patterns and urban policy throughout the last century. This connection was discussed at the Building One PA summit in Lancaster and was integral to Myron Orfield’s framework of a policy agenda.

Staley writes:

When people think of redistributive wealth policies in the Postwar years, they likely think of Great Society programs, but it was actually the subsidization of suburbia that coincided with the Great Compression of the 50’s and 60’s, and redistributed wealth more effectively, actually helping whole classes of people attain prosperity considered previously unattainable.

Though his post has many controversial points, I can’t help but wholeheartedly agree with many of his claims. He states:

Look to where union labor and manufacturing used to exist: Detroit, Youngstown, Cleveland, etc. These cities, instead of tearing down old buildings to put up condominiums, are tearing down old buildings to prevent blight, and to relieve city services of their duties in the face of a constantly declining tax base. Is Detroit’s abandonment the inverse of Williamsburg’s gentrification?

Staley correctly points out that, at its core, this problem is structural. This is an issue that is dependent on the policies that are in place that are either encouraging disinvestment in our older communities or providing incentives for rebuilding and renewing.

I encourage you to read the full article and post your comments below.

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 September 22, 2010, in Media Coverage, Municipal Government, Neighborhoods, Public Infrastructure, Transportation, Trends, Urbanism and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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