Discussions about poverty are never far from the work that we do at LOA, especially when working in distressed urban communities where jobs are few and far between and where business owners struggle to make ends meet. Despite these challenges, we are always inspired by the communities where we work, and in particular the residents and community leaders who continue to take action and find ways to make their neighborhoods better places. So what are the challenges and solutions to persistent poverty at the neighborhood level? And is “gentrification” a red herring that keeps us from recognizing the mounting problems of communities that may never see the arrival of higher income residents? These are questions with which we grapple on a daily basis.
This is why I am particularly excited to join author, advocate and Professor Alan Mallach to discuss his new book, The Divided City, Poverty and Prosperity in Urban America on June 25th at the Century Foundation in Lower Manhattan. Other speakers include Professor Laura Wolf-Powers of Hunter College’s Department of Urban Policy and Planning and Joseph Della Fave, Executive Director of Ironbound Community Corporation in Newark, NJ.
As I dig into this book I found it to be a great read, offering historical context and deep insight into the urban challenges currently facing many post-industrial cities. For those looking for solutions to the challenges facing “magnet” cities like New York, Washington DC or San Francisco, cities that often dominate the headlines with concerns about the rapid influx of high income residents displacing those with lesser means, look elsewhere. This book is about “legacy” cities like Youngstown, OH, Trenton, NJ and Buffalo, NY, where job growth and economic development continue to lag – and where persistent and concentrated poverty continues to relegate generations of poor (often black and brown) people to cycles of poverty from which escape is increasingly unlikely. These places also happen to be places where we have worked and partnered with Community Development Corporations, Community Development Intermediaries, and local government to identify asset-based solutions to neighborhoods that struggle to retain jobs and businesses for local residents. It promises to be a lively discussion so I hope you will join us!