We Need a Rural New Deal

Just as the original New Deal was in large part designed to address the dire challenges rural America faced in the 1930s, today's rural community economic development practitioners can learn from the Green New Deal.

1 minute read

April 7, 2020, 11:00 AM PDT

By LM_Ortiz


Conservation Distict

Gigra / Rural

COVID-19 is a combined health and economic crisis poised to further devastate rural communities already suffering severe economic stress. Already, rural health care systems are strained by the outbreak, and workers across the country are facing increasing precarity as the crisis unfolds.

The COVID-19 outbreak exposes an already uneven geography of development. Large swaths of rural America had already been left behind by our last economic recovery: 86 percent of U.S. counties that are in persistent poverty are rural. While the overall population living in distressed zip codes has declined since 2007, it has increased in rural areas. This “ruralization of distress” has taken a tremendous human toll. Rural counties have higher rates of premature death, with one in five getting worse. Rural residents also incur higher healthcare costs, and nonwhite rural residents face even greater health disparities.  

As we move into our new reality with the COVID-19 pandemic and its rippling economic effects, these disparities are on track to become even more stark. Clearly, we need new approaches to economic development to reverse these longstanding trends.

Fortunately, there is already a wide body of literature to draw from on rural revitalization.

Friday, March 27, 2020 in Shelterforce Magazine

Ornate, tan stone capitol building with a gold dome roof and low-rise city buildings in the background.

States Are Banning Guaranteed Income Programs

Four states now have laws in place that prevent cities and counties from creating or continuing guaranteed income programs, and several more have tried or are trying.

May 23, 2024 - Bloomberg CityLab

Aerial view of Oceanwide Plaza skyscrapers covered with graffiti tags.

LA’s Abandoned Towers Loom as a “$1.2 Billion Ruin of Global Capital”

Oceanwide Plaza, shuttered mid-construction after its developer filed for bankruptcy, has stood vacant on prime Los Angeles real estate since 2019.

May 21, 2024 - The Architect's Newspaper

Close-up of electric stove range with front burners red-hot.

California Cities Suspend Natural Gas Bans Following Court Ruling

A Ninth Circuit court ruling forced Berkeley to reverse its ban on natural gas in new buildings, prompting other cities to suspend their own efforts to promote all-electric buildings.

May 28, 2024 - East Bay Times

View of downtown Grand Junction, Colorado with mesas in background.

How Grand Junction Camping Ban Impacts Unhoused Residents

The city is still developing an interim housing plan, but has not yet provided alternate safe housing options for people experiencing homelessness.

11 minutes ago - Yahoo News

View of small town of Craig, Colorado with flat-topped mountain in background.

Colorado Cities Seek to Address Housing Crisis With Modular Housing, STR Rules

Cities are incentivizing more affordable housing types and limiting permits for short-term rentals in an effort to keep housing affordable for residents.

1 hour ago - Reasons to Be Cheerful

Panorama Close up of pedestrian traffic light signal against blue sky and bright clouds.

Traffic Safety Efforts Chug Ahead — Too Slowly for Some

Around the United States, traffic deaths are growing or plateauing, yet efforts to make roads safer still face political opposition.

2 hours ago - KFF Health News

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.