In March, the Congressional Black Caucus issued the report “We Have a Lot To Lose: Solutions to Advance Black Families in the 21st Century,” and among solutions for addressing economic disparity and lifting Americans out of poverty, was “build and strengthen middle neighborhoods across the country.” The report was presented to President Trump.
As part of its legacy cities work, The American Assembly has embarked on an initiative with the authors of its recent publication On the Edge: America’s Middle Neighborhoods and editor Paul Brophy to build leadership and support around the issue of middle neighborhoods. Middle neighborhoods are on the edge of growth and decline. They are generally more racially diverse, housing is typically affordable, and quality of life—measured by employment rates, crime rates, and school performance—is sufficiently good so that new home buyers are willing to play the odds. With a small amount of investment (or a little more neglect), middle neighborhoods can greatly impact the future of a legacy city, either tipping surrounding areas into deeper decline or stabilizing them.
“The general thrust of the program, which is to build home equity in these neighborhoods so that American working class and middle class people can see their property values be stable…these are not Democratic or Republican values,” Brophy said. “I think with the right understanding of this it can be a bipartisan issue, and we can get some attention from this administration.” – Billy Penn, March 23, 2017
Rep. Dwight Evans (D-Pennsylvania), Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Michigan), and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) also hosted a congressional briefing on this month to discuss a range of topics related to building and strengthening middle neighborhoods. The Assembly hopes to bring this issue into the national sphere of attention and help draw support for federal funding.