Where You Live Matters

I think we all knew this was true, but there is copious data backing it up now. Take a gander.

The main takeaways from this are what you might expect, that areas with lower “risk factors” of incarceration, single-parent homes and other such things give the children raised there a higher average household income as adults. Nothing is fated or guaranteed, as an individual from a “riskier” area can become wealthy and a person from a “safer” area can end up struggling, but the chances are what they are.

To me, the most interesting question is how to help the people who are nonetheless living in these areas. The study suggests we ought to help people move to give them a better chance, and if that helps some, then good for those folks.

But not everyone can move. So what sort of support can be provided so that neighborhoods – and the challenges within them – don’t doom people to future poverty?

My wife, who knows more about this, especially on the housing side, offers her opinion on how to support people in these neighborhoods, and she will have the last word on this.

Alissa says, “Supports must include, safe, affordable, functional housing and access to safe, nurturing, supportive schools/childcare.  This is not shocking, as we are often aware of the problems within cities and the lack of access to resources that money could buy; we just struggle to provide a way to overcome the barriers. There are a lot of models that support the benefits of economically diverse neighborhoods and communities, however this often lacks insight into the fundamentals of individual/household income limitations.  It won’t help to live in a “better” neighborhood if one cannot afford to take advantage of the access it provides.  This can create a feeling of insecurity that is wrongfully assumed would go away with said move.  For example, many households struggle to find affordable (and trustworthy) childcare and may rely on neighbors, family, or friends.  If this family moves to a “better,” and thus more distant area, their supports are now more difficult to access and logistics can become trickier. This family may now spend a large amount of time traveling greater distances to continue to utilize these vital supports and therefore spend less time in their “better” neighborhood.

These problems need to be solved within communities.  How can we enhance what’s there?  How do we help individual communities become safer and allow families to live where they truly choose, where they have strong ties?  This is possible, but it requires thought, time, and, of course, money.”


What do you think?

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