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April 18, 2024

  • Jeanette Winterson for “gAyPRIL”
    “gAyPRIL” (Gay-April) continues on Falcon Radio, sharing a playlist curated by the Queer Trans Student Union, sharing songs celebrating the LGBTQ+ experience. In similar vein, you will enjoy Jeanette Winterson’s books if you find yourself interested in LGBTQ+ voices and nonlinear narratives. As “dead week” is upon us, students, we can utilize resources such as Falcon […]
  • Poetics of April
    As we enter into the poetics of April, also known as national poetry month, here are four voices from well to lesser known. The Tradition – Jericho Brown Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Brown visited the last American Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP 2024) conference, and I loved his speech and humor. Besides […]
Spring Housing Guide

Poverty common in cities

Half a mile stands between the impoverished unemployed and the thriving new shopping center in Dayton.

That shopping center, along with others like it all over the country, has several job positions that need to be filled. But as the bus stop falls half a mile short for those who can’t afford a car, so does the opportunity to get work.

And while the region surrounding the mall will prosper economically, John P. Blair, a Wright State economics professor, said the inner city areas will be left behind.

Working with the University’s Center for Regional Development, Blair gave a presentation yesterday on his research looking at the relationship between inner city neighborhoods and regional development.

Using an old expression, Blair asked, “Does a rising tide lift all boats?”

He was referring to the theory that if a policy helps one region specifically, all regions will prosper. Blair also gave the example that many policies help the wealthy. Blair explained that the idea behind the policy is that if the wealthy are doing well, they will spend more money which will help everyone in the economy.

With this idea in mind, what Blair wanted to know was if the metropolitan areas were thriving, would the inner cities benefit as well?

After surveying some of the poorest neighborhoods in the country and applying numerous economic theories addressing the issue of poverty, Blair concluded that the problems inner cities face “are probably going to get worse.”

As of 2004, The U.S. Census reported 37 million people in the United States living in poverty, 12.7 percent of the population. In fact, the number of people living in poverty, many living in inner cities, had increased from the previous year.

But why?

Using the economic theories on poverty as a reference point, Blair gave several explanations as to why people living in poor inner city neighborhoods are often unable to get ahead.

One idea was that with suburbanization of regions, and lack of effective public transportation, people are unable to get to their jobs.

“What good does it do to hear a plant is hiring 20 miles from your home if you can’t get there?” he asked.

Another problem Blair could see is that many impoverished people have been unable to obtain either the technical or behavioral skills necessary to work in the metropolitan jobs that would better their financial situation.

“Some of these people you wouldn’t hire if they were free,” Blair said.

But the biggest problem Blair could see was the lack of communication among institutions involved in the inner city communities and those of the metropolitan areas. Blair said that often people tried to improve inner cities by focusing on housing. And while he did not want to discount those activities as important, he said the focus should be on opening businesses up in the inner cities.

He said that when interviewing residents of these poor inner city neighborhoods, a comment several people make is that they need a grocery store other than a 7-11. And a grocery store, for example, would add to the economy as people of the area would have jobs there and spend their money in the area.

But often times people don’t know how to communicate with institutions like banks so they can get the loans necessary to open a local business.

“And there are opportunities for entrepreneurs to make profits in inner cities,” Blair said.

After listening intently to Blair’s presentation, junior Summer Donaldson had a question for him. Growing up in Detroit, Donaldson said that one reason people in urban areas were unable to get ahead was because people in suburbs didn’t care. She said these people seem to ask, “Why should I help the inner city? My economics are fine.”

While she agreed with much of Blair’s presentation, Donaldson wished he would provide more solutions.

One solution Blair did offer was direct linkage programs. He said one such program would have inner city business owners sign a contract agreeing to hire a set amount of people from the area. A similar program was recently implemented in Portland, Oregon, and Blair expects it to work.

In response to why people should care about inner city poverty, Blair said it is “because social cohesion depends on it.” He explained that if certain people always feel left out, they won’t feel that it is necessary to abide by the rules.

“If the game is rigged against you, you aren’t going to feel like playing the game,” he said.

While some like Donaldson weren’t completely satisfied with all of Blair’s ideas, senior Ryan Eiben said that the presentation reaffirmed some of his own reasons for wanting to further a career in economics.

“Economics speaks to someone’s desire to reach out and say ‘I want to help you.’ That’s why his talk specifically was very heartfelt and pointed, and meant to address the idealism of social betterment,” Eiben said.

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