NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Urban Rebirth

October 17, 2000

Life is on the upswing in many inner-city neighborhoods, report Paul S. Grogan and Tony Proscio in "Comeback Cities: A Blueprint for Urban Neighborhood Revival," published by Westview Press.

Grogan, former director of Local Initiatives Support Corp. and now vice president for government and community affairs at Harvard University, and Proscio, a former journalist, identify four big trends contributing to this urban revival:

  • First, religiously based local charities and thousands of community development corporations -- nonprofit, locally run groups -- are leveraging public and private funds to build and renovate houses, redevelop rundown commercial strips, and increasingly provide other services, from day care to operating charter schools.
  • Second, the market economy is returning to the inner city through new supermarkets, clothing stores and small businesses -- often started by entrepreneurial immigrants.
  • Third is the extraordinary decline in urban crime, due largely to the shift in police tactics to target not just crime but disorder -- the so-called broken windows theory.
  • Finally, they point to "the deregulation of the inner city" though reform of public housing, welfare and the public school system.

These trends have helped reduce inner city poverty -- which fell more than two percentage points last year to its lowest level since 1979.

Source: Ronald Brownstein, "Upswing in Our Inner Cities Needs Nurturing Hand of Next President," Los Angeles Times, October 9, 2000.


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