A Holistic Approach to Revitalizing Neighborhoods

Affordable housing is one piece of a larger, interconnected approach.

1 minute read

February 27, 2024, 9:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Multistory concrete apartment building under construction behind green construction fence.

Richard / Adobe Stock

In an excerpt from Fragile Neighborhoods: Repairing American Society, One Zip Code at a Time published in Next City, Seth D. Kaplan calls for a more holistic approach to solving the related problems of poverty, housing insecurity, and a lack of economic opportunity.

Whether in an urban or suburban neighborhood, a suitable habitat should include a commercial center — an avenue, cluster of shops, or plaza — as well as parks, libraries, and houses of worship, which provide everyday facilities and services as well as places for people to gather and interact. And it should include transit points, connecting residents to people and opportunities outside the neighborhood, as well as contiguous sidewalks affording residents walkable access to other areas within the neighborhood.

Quoting sociologist Emily Talen, Kaplan notes that many “neighborhoods in the US are overwhelmingly not well serviced.” Residents with means move to other areas, leaving poor neighborhoods even more underresourced. For Kaplan, “Without healthy neighborhoods, school systems cannot improve educational results, health care agencies cannot improve health outcomes, and police cannot make streets safe. Yet the great majority of public and private interventions are not structured to address the underlying social dynamics that produced these problems in the first place.”

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