Living Cities has been working to dramatically improve the lives of low-income people in America’s cities for close to 25 years now. Our diverse portfolio gives us a unique vantage point to identify trends and accelerate the uptake of promising practices in the field. So what are we seeing across America? And where do we need to focus to truly build a new type of urban practice that gets dramatically better results for low-income people, faster?
This week’s #GoodReads, reading recommendations from Living Cities staff, explore what we believe are a few core elements of a new urban practice.
This week, our CEO, Ben Hecht, suggests you read a thought-provoking piece from The Economist about a multi-national asset building program aimed at poverty alleviation. It begs the question: Could there be a “Universal Fix” to Poverty?
[Graduating From Destitution](http:/www.economist.com/node/216601330] – The Economist
Workforce: Technology and the Shared Economy
One challenge that we see cities grappling with across the country is job creation. The emerging sharing economy presents an opportunity to create good jobs,and ones that pay a living wage. But how can we ensure that the jobs created actually benefit low-income residents? And as technology advances, how can we anticipate challenges that may face low-income works in the future?
I Was an Undercover Uber Driver – The City Paper
Recommended by Tamir Novotny, Senior Associate, Public Sector Innovation
Are Uber users (myself included) helping Uber become the Wal-mart of taxis? Uber has revolutionized the taxi business, but its effects on the livelihoods and long-term prospects of drivers have not been well-documented documented. This reporter from the Philadelphia City Paper went undercover as an Uber driver to explore the economics and other ins-and-outs of the business.
A World Without Work – The Atlantic
Recommended by Nadia Owusu, Assistant Director, Strategic Communications and Storytelling
Experts have long been breathlessly predicting that machines will make workers obsolete. This fascinating exploration in The Atlantic of the potential future(s) of work asks if that could actually be a good thing. Derek Thompson travels to Youngstown, Ohio where, in many ways, the future is already here, at least in terms of the decline of labor. There, he finds people defining for themselves (and potentially for the rest of us), the meaning of ‘work,’ ‘jobs,’ ‘careers,’ and ‘callings.’ As Living Cities works with other leaders to build a new urban practice to foster and accelerate dramatically better results for low-income people, considering what opportunity will look like in twenty years and beyond is critical.
Housing and Access to Opportunities
We also know that, even in cities where good jobs exist, low-income people face barriers to accessing these opportunities. From addressing displacement to increasing affordable housing options in areas with access to transit, America’s cities need new ways of connecting low-income people to the jobs, amenities and essential services they need to thrive.
As New York Rents Soar, Public Housing Becomes a Lifelong Refuge – The New York Times
Recommendation from Ronda Jackson, Associate Director, Public Sector Innovation
Mireya Navarro writes an engaging piece in the New York Times about how rising rents in New York City has led to middle-income New Yorkers remaining in public housing for decades. I was struck that 5% (10,000) of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) households make over $69,000 a year. A number that would disqualify them to get into public housing, but because there are no income requirements for remaining in NYCHA’s public housing middle-income tenants are able to stay in public housing decreasing low-cost housing options for the city’s poorest residents.
White Flight Never Ended – The Atlantic
Recommended by Alyssa Campbell, Intern, Knowledge & Impact
This article contests the notion that our cities have become more integrated. Displaced from inner cities, the suburbs have become more segregated as blacks move, often by necessity for affordability, to majority black enclaves while whites are attracted to communities that largely resemble them. Despite the push for desegregation under Kennedy and Johnson, it is striking to see how little American cities have changed since the Civil Rights era. While in the 1960’s job opportunities declined in inner cities, today more and more high-skilled jobs are relocating to urban areas. Fifty years later, the same story of black communities isolated from job opportunities and vibrant urban centers persists, this time playing out in the suburbs – where often a lack of transit access or long commutes to employment centers leaves communities even more isolated than before.
And, we know that improving the lives of low-income people isn’t just about raising the bar, but also requires us to address racial disparities and close the gaps. It’s crucial then, to collect good data, disaggregated by race.
The Next Big Thing in Data Analytic – Governing
Recommended by Ellen Ward, Senior Investment Associate, Capital Innovation
Technology is remaking what is possible to know about human behavior and decision-making. The type and volume of data we can, and are collecting is at an all-time high. But I find myself asking, “to what end”? I appreciate this article’s focus on the need to disaggregate data to make more informed decisions which I think is especially critical when it comes to issues of race and equity. It is not enough to look at trends at the population level, we have to dig deeper to know the disparate (or hopefully positive) impact that policies and programs have on low-income communities and communities of color.