Greater Cleveland is Among the Most Economically Segregated Regions in the U.S.

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Hough
  • ERIC SANDY/SCENE
  • Hough

The latest dose of local reflection comes via The Atlantic Cities blog's five-part series on economic segregation. They're two parts in, and it's an important read thus far.

The greater Cleveland area (Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor) ranks among the most segregated regions in the U.S., clocking in just below the likes of Milwaukee, Hartford, and Philadelphia - and just above Detroit. ...But what does that mean?

Here's the quick introduction provided by Richard Florida:

Poverty in America is an enormous problem. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 15 percent of Americans, or 46.5 million people, lived below the poverty line in 2012. And the poor are increasingly isolated across America. As Sean Reardon and Kendra Bischoff have documented, between 1970 and 2009 the proportion of poor families living in poor neighborhoods more than doubled, from 8 to 18 percent. And the trend shows no signs of abating.

This increasing concentration of poverty poses a host of problems to communities. Less advantaged communities suffer not just from a lack of economic resources but from everything from higher crime and drop-out rates to higher rates of infant mortality and chronic disease. In his classic The Truly Disadvantaged, William Julius Wilson called attention to the deleterious social effects that go along with the spatial concentration of poverty, which “include the kinds of ecological niches that the residents of these neighborhoods occupy in terms of access to jobs and job networks, availability of marriageable partners, involvement in quality schools, and exposure to conventional role models."

Even the most surface-level glances across neighborhoods like Hough, Fairfax, or the whole of East Cleveland reveals as much. These communities are about as isolated as possible - economically, socially, educationally, etc.

Isolation like that compounds over time, leaving residents there with fewer and fewer options for a) housing, b) school, c) entertainment, d) everything else. The economic segregation even reaches the halls of both government and nonprofit outreach services (CDCs and the like). Publicly and privately funded outlets for safety and well-being get shortchanged in all manners of speaking.

"The core city doesn't have the necessary population to adequately support the infrastructure needs," Tim Tramble, director of Burten, Bell, Carr Development Inc. on Kinsman, tells Scene. "This results in higher taxes and concentrated poverty, which has lead to a severe degree of blight, greater demand for social services, higher crime and failing schools."

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