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By: Charlie Jones

July 2022

African American neighborhoods are often stigmatized as being riddled with crime and poverty. While this may be true in most cases, there are ways that residents and community organizations can work together to improve these areas. From beautifying the neighborhood to increasing economic opportunity, there are various steps that can be taken to be effective. In this blog post, we will explore the current situation and avenues that inner-city neighborhoods can be improved.

Current Situation
African Americans, experience challenges from racial disparities in their neighborhoods and well-being. Consider the various cases of racial discrimination and low access to quality schools and health care facilities and economic opportunities. It is not difficult to see why these neighborhoods have significant exposure to criminal activity, pollution, and congestion.

Unfortunately, it is hard to crack the vicious cycle for children who are born and raised in grinding, persistent poverty. In addition, the effects on families vary depending on race when they live in such situations for lengthy periods. It is highly likely to find that generation after generation, the families still live in the poorest communities. Being raised in a high-poverty community has long-term consequences for African Americans significantly more severely than their white peers.

The effect of Residential Segregation on Wealth Accumulation

Considering real estate as a wealth accumulation strategy, in African American areas, property value appreciation is hampered by racial residential segregation. Caucasian families are still hesitant to purchase homes in African American areas. This is because African American communities are mostly seen as less secure. They also find the neighborhoods lack the same amenities, such as well-maintained parks and health care facilities, found in the white suburbs. Real estate is therefore less appealing, even if all other attributes of the homes are the same. Segregated markets also drastically lower the values of homes in these neighborhoods. It is also difficult for a Black person to get approved for a mortgage than applicants of other races.

Effects of Residential Segregation on Concentrated Poverty

It Widens the Opportunity Gap.

Concentrated poverty levels among African American residents have increased over the past few decades, leading to a widening of the opportunity gap. A major factor in this increase has been residential segregation, which limits economic opportunities and access to resources. Segregated neighborhoods are often located in urban areas with high crime rates and limited access to jobs, education, and healthcare. As a result, concentrated poverty widens the opportunity gap by limiting economic opportunities for African Americans.

Wealth Inequality

The expropriation of land from Indigenous people, racially exclusive housing restrictions, and redlining all contributed to the emergence of this division. Segregation tendencies among other oppressed groups can be traced back too many discriminatory policies, which were primarily directed at African Americans. Discrimination in mortgage financing and restrictive zoning rules are used today to preserve segregation. African Americans have been kept out of the economic mainstream while white communities have amassed vast wealth and resources.

Steps to Improve the Neighborhood’s Poverty Levels.

  1. Creating a better place to live.

Step one in addressing poverty and segregation in neighborhoods is improving the community’s socio-economic fabric, reducing the likelihood that these problems will remain. This is a term for community-driven initiatives aimed at boosting the economy.

Options to create a better neighborhood include:

  • Improving the quality of the neighborhood school’s infrastructure.
  • Reducing crime rates within the neighborhood
  • Improving or making access to healthy the different food options easier
  • Encouraging local entrepreneurship

With the application of favorable policies, diversity and opportunity will increase, making these areas more desirable for living, working, and doing business. Housing costs could go up, and existing low-income people could be forced to leave their homes. Therefore, addressing the underlying causes of poverty must be paired with efforts to ensure that existing inhabitants and local businesses can stay and participate in an improving community.

These include:

  • Providing rental aid for families
  • Considering inclusionary zoning.
  • Providing incentives for developers to provide affordable multi-family housing for all income levels.

Even more importantly, local governments must help long-term residents find different employment opportunities in an improving neighborhood by promoting job training. They can as well consider improving the existing apprenticeship programs and providing incentives for employing locally.

  1. Relocating.

In these communities, it is exceedingly difficult to strengthen their assets and opportunities, even if that is the chosen strategy. Making it easy for people to relocate to locations with more resources and employment opportunities is an additional critical component. Policies, such as extending rental assistance programs should make it simpler for poor families to move from places with persistent poverty to locations with better opportunities. A combination of rental aid and land-use reforms is needed to boost the supply of affordable homes for these families in more affluent neighborhoods. This is an exciting time to tighten fair requirements and demands, which would help lower-income families relocate to more wealthy neighborhoods.

  1. Access to opportunities is emphasized.

Cities need to be better integrated so that more people can take advantage of their opportunities. People from diverse neighborhoods will it easy to promote the implementation of regional projects to boost the mobility of residents in the urban regions. In most cases, the expansion of an inexpensive transportation system is required. The construction of affordable homes near the urban areas and fostering more dense urban areas can help alleviate the strain of urban sprawl. Segregated and under-resourced neighborhoods have long-term detrimental effects on families. Additionally, allowing these families to relocate to places with more opportunities for better education and work availability for their families, should be beneficial.

Final Thoughts

As we have seen above, there is a high chance that the neighborhood people are raised in can affect their success in life. The concentrated poverty among African Americans can be tackled through the tips discussed above. Developing better policies that will help improve the African American communities and neighborhoods is the best way to alleviate the concentrated poverty among African Americans.

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