From unemployment to rising rents to widespread foreclosures, many major problems face Americans. In his latest column, Neal Peirce argues that planners are the ones who can formulate a broad solution.
"Looking at today's crises piecemeal misses a larger point, the American Planning Association argues in a book, 'Overlooked America'."
"It's that at least 12 percent of the U.S. population - over 37 million of us - faces serious life struggles. And that it's not just the jobless in a recession, or people chronically without a roof over their heads. The 'overlooked' of America, the planners write, include those who suffer from the dangerous emissions of nearby toxic waste dumps. They're also teenagers expelled from their homes for being gay and then exposed to sexual exploitation on the streets."
"They're sex offenders who serve their sentences, straighten out their lives, but get treated as 21st century lepers in their communities."
"And the overlooked are also the elderly stranded in their homes when they can no longer drive."
"The message: Planners, who most of us think of as the technicians who lay out city streets and parks and deal with building codes and zoning, can help set the rules, raise issues and act as a strong moral force in their communities. "