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Urban Issues

Report: Poverty Has Suburbanized

The suburbs are now home to a greater share of America's poor than inner cities, according to a report released January 20 by the Brookings Institution.

Suburban poverty has been increasing at a faster rate than poverty in inner cities in recent years partly because the economic downturn has hit all segments of society and more people live in the suburbs.  Nationally, midwestern cities and suburbs have been hardest hit, particularly areas that are heavily dependant upon auto manufacturing.

According to the report:

In 2000, the greatest share of the poor lived in the primary cities of the country’s largest metro areas. These cities were home to almost 400,000 more poor than their suburbs, and the balance of the poor population was more likely to live in non-metropolitan communities than small metro areas. However, growth rates well above average in the suburban and small metro area poor populations have re-drawn the map over the course of the decade.

Most notably, by 2008 a plurality of the nation’s poor lived in large metropolitan suburbs. Between 2000 and 2008, the number of these suburban poor increased by 25 percent—10 points above the national average and close to 5 times the growth rate for the poor in primary cities.

The report has interesting implications for federal urban policy. Overall, the Obama administration has stressed the importance of a metro-wide approach to urban policy, particularly in the areas of jobs and the environment. Place-based policies like Promise Neighborhoods, which focus on areas of concentrated poverty, are an adjunct to that.

To the extent that place-based policies put jobs (cradle-to-career) on an equal footing with education (cradle-to-college), integration into a broader metro-wide policy becomes more important. In theory, each of these areas are being addressed by the Obama administration's White House interagency urban policy working group.

Cities Provide Open Data for Community Research

More cities are making local data publicly available, according to Planetizen. Like the Urban Institute’s NNIP that we recently reported on, these tools provide data in multiple formats and are making socioeconomic indictors more accessible to the general public. While the federal government’s launch of Data.gov has created buzz in this space, local efforts like ones in New York, Washington DC and San Francisco can help provide the groundwork for place-based educational and human service efforts.

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National League of Cities Hosts Promise Neighborhoods Workshop

Last week the National League of Cities hosted the 2009 National Summit on Your City's Families in Boston. This gathering of community leaders focused on children, youth, and families is the largest of its kind, and attracted participants from across the country. Presenters included the Harlem Children Zone Practitioner Institute’s Rasuli Lewis and the Parramore Kidz Zone’s Lisa Early of the Parramore Kidz Zone initiative. Below is a write up from staff at the National League of Cities:

More than 350 municipal leaders and community partners gathered in Boston from Oct. 11-13 for the 2009 National Summit on Your City’s Families.  Sponsored by the National League of Cities, the biennial Summit is the nation’s largest gathering of municipal officials working to improve the lives of children, youth and families in their communities.  One of the Summit workshops on Tuesday, Oct. 12 focused on “Promise Neighborhoods: Holistic New Investment Strategies for America’s Most Vulnerable Communities.”
More than 60 attendees participated in this standing room only workshop featuring Rasuli Lewis, Director of the Practitioner’s Institute for the Harlem Children’s Zone, and Lisa Early, Director of Families, Parks and Recreation for the City of Orlando and the administrator of Orlando’s Parramore Kidz Zone initiative.  Mr. Lewis described the key elements of the children’s zone model and how those elements have been put into practice in Harlem, and Ms. Early discussed the roles that municipal government can play in leading the development of a children’s zone initiative.
The Parramore Kidz Zone was also featured in a “World Café” style session featuring 20 of the 32 city innovations highlighted in NLC’s new report on The State of City Leadership for Children and Families.  To download the report, or to learn more about the Summit, visit www.nlc.org/iyef<http://www.nlc.org/iyef>.  To read an article about the Summit appearing in the October 19 edition of Nation's Cities Weekly, see http://www.nlc.org/ASSETS/A636C4558AD54691A2785EC3268553CB/IYEF_YCF_2009...

More than 350 municipal leaders and community partners gathered in Boston from Oct. 11-13 for the 2009 National Summit on Your City’s Families.  Sponsored by the National League of Cities, the biennial Summit is the nation’s largest gathering of municipal officials working to improve the lives of children, youth and families in their communities.  One of the Summit workshops on Tuesday, Oct. 12 focused on “Promise Neighborhoods: Holistic New Investment Strategies for America’s Most Vulnerable Communities.”

More than 60 attendees participated in this standing room only workshop featuring Rasuli Lewis, Director of the Practitioner’s Institute for the Harlem Children’s Zone, and Lisa Early, Director of Families, Parks and Recreation for the City of Orlando and the administrator of Orlando’s Parramore Kidz Zone initiative.  Mr. Lewis described the key elements of the children’s zone model and how those elements have been put into practice in Harlem, and Ms. Early discussed the roles that municipal government can play in leading the development of a children’s zone initiative.

The Parramore Kidz Zone was also featured in a “World Café” style session featuring 20 of the 32 city innovations highlighted in NLC’s new report on The State of City Leadership for Children and Families.  To download the report, or to learn more about the Summit, visit www.nlc.org/iyef.  A full article covering the Summit can be found in the October 19 edition of Nation's Cities Weekly.

Mayors Face Tough Times

Kevin Friedl writes an interesting piece in today's National Journal Online. Some excerpts:

A survey of more than 90 big-city mayors, released this month at the annual meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, found that declining revenue from property taxes and cuts in state aid were leading to belt-tightening measures such as service cuts and layoffs. "We're creatures of the states, and when they get hurt, they pass it right down to us," said Tom Cochran, the Conference's executive director. "There's no question: The mayors are in the worst economic crisis that they've been in since the Great Depression."

A statement from the mayors conference recently complained about underfunding for infrastructure projects in metro areas, saying cities "have been short-changed in the receipt of federal stimulus funds."

For its part, the administration points out that transportation funding is only a small portion of total stimulus spending. "When you add to it other funds that are going to cities -- community development grants, weatherization funds, community health centers -- we are hard at work helping bring recovery to America's cities," said Elizabeth Oxhorn, a spokeswoman for Vice President Joe Biden.

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by Dr. Radut