What Do the Poor Need? Try Asking Them – ©[nytimes.com] by @davidkirp
FOR decades, policy makers have treated poverty as a sign of helplessness and ineptitude. The worse off the neighborhood — the higher the rate of poverty, crime, and juvenile delinquency — the less influence it would have over its future. Social service agencies conducted “needs assessments” rather than asking residents what would strengthen their community. Government agencies or private entrepreneurs then delivered brick-and-mortar solutions — a new school, medical clinic or housing.
It seldom worked. Take Baltimore, which has been “renewed” again and again. Two decades ago, more than $130 million was poured into the neighborhood where the arrest of Freddie Gray sparked riots last spring. The vision was grand — more than a thousand homes were built or renovated; education and health services were introduced — but the jobs disappeared and the drug trade continued to flourish.
David L. Kirp
Education and inequality.