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Interactive Maps Explore Barriers to Opportunity
Rachel Kaufman covers a pair of interactive maps and a report from the UNC Center for Community Capital and JPMorgan Chase that tease out the "zip code effect" on access to economic opportunity. "The purpose of the report, as its authors said, was to 'shed light on which aspects of access to opportunity are universal — i.e. seem to be present regardless of setting — and which are more a matter of local particularities.'"
The project looks at two neighborhoods, Columbia Parc in New Orleans, and Protrero Terrace and Annex in San Francisco, with very divergent socio-economic contexts. Despite the latter's position in a wealthy area, Kaufman writes, "residents still struggle: no bus line serves Protrero Annex, and the lines serving the Terrace have been cut over time. The nearest bank and credit union branches are more than a mile away, so residents end up using local ATMs (and paying the associated fees) or check-cashing stores."
Residents of Columbia Parc face similar challenges. One lesson: the "friction of distance" that residents perceive between two points matters more than the distance in miles. And without adequate information and awareness, social networks, and cultural competency from service providers, even neighborhoods in wealthy regions can become isolated from economic drivers and political processes that affect them.