Middle neighborhoods are neither the poorest nor the wealthiest neighborhoods in a city, typically experiencing neither precipitous decline nor rapid appreciation. In many cities, they account for a significant share of residents and are reasonably affordable to middle income households. This research brief examines conditions and trends in Philadelphia’s middle neighborhoods differentiated by their racial, ethnic, and national origin makeup. A deeper understanding of the dynamics at play in different types of middle neighborhoods can help guide policy and investment approaches to shore up the inherent strength in these areas, and also head off decline that could potentially diminish not only residents’ financial health and neighborhood quality of life, but also Philadelphia’s overall wellbeing.
Reinvestment Fund contributed to a new book titled On the Edge: America’s Middle Neighborhoods. Published by The American Assembly, a collection of authors present new evidence indicating that a category of neighborhoods exists in many cities and surrounding areas that planners and policymakers have neglected. These “middle neighborhoods” are generally affordable neighborhoods with acceptable levels of public safety and schools, but they are in danger of falling into decline if left to market forces. A shrinking middle class, the suburbanization of jobs, obsolete housing styles, and a decline in homeownership rates clouds the future of these middle neighborhoods. Written by Ira Goldstein, William Schrecker and Jacob L. Rosch, our chapter in the publication looks at the demographics and characteristics of middle neighborhoods in select legacy cities. For more on the book, visit middleneighborhoods.org.
“Middle Neighborhoods” or middle markets are an important focus for many of the cities in which we have conducted MVAs. These areas fall somewhere on the MVA spectrum from relatively strong to showing only modest levels of distress. They are home to many city residents, oftentimes the majority of a city’s population, and they tend to be more racially integrated than other parts of cities. But they are generally not places where federal programs or philanthropic attention is focused.
Making informed choices about neighborhood improvement strategies is an important agenda item for city governments and other stakeholders concerned with neighborhood improvement. Over the past eight months, I have been working with the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank and the American Assembly, to produce a book of readings from experts regarding neighborhood improvement strategies in America’s legacy cities.
Presentation by Ira Goldstein given at the “Philadelphia’s Vital Neighborhoods: Taking a Closer Look at Why Middle-Income Markets are Critical to Our City’s Future” convening hosted by Neighborhoods Now. The presentation offers an approach to understanding how to identify and deploy resources to the city of Philadelphia’s vital, middle-market neighborhoods in an effort to preserve the stability and enhance attractiveness to existing and new Philadelphia residents.
A study just released by the Pew Charitable Trusts (http://goo.gl/S2Mufe) uses Reinvestment Fund’s Displacement Risk Ratio (DRR) to analyze gentrification and other types of neighborhood change in Philadelphia since the year 2000. The report found that gentrification, when defined as a neighborhood’s shift from a mostly low-income population to a middle or high-income one, was relatively limited. It also found that the speed and scope of the process varied substantially from one gentrified neighborhood to another. The DRR (referred to as the ‘affordability index’ in the report), was essential to understanding those variations, and the implications for longtime residents
Reinvestment Fund was named the Asset Manager of the Year by the Global Social Impact Investment Steering Group (GSG), an independent umbrella organization for nations working to catalyze impact investment and entrepreneurship to benefit people and the planet.
In honoring Reinvestment Fund, GSG recognized our successful $50 million bond offering, which reached traditional capital markets for low-income community development.
A reflection on St. Louis’ journey to embed neighborhood market types into our private sector community development practice and a summary of our journey to date, while unfinished, is at the following link: https://goo.gl/NWRFnn.
This July, longtime community members were able to move into their new homes in Mount Holly, NJ. TRF Development Partners helped craft a resolution to a conflict between the township and residents who were displaced by the demolition of 300 homes in favor of new construction, market rate housing. Central to our development plan for the Parker Green subdivision is the integration of new families with existing residents in a mixed-income community.
The community had previously filed a lawsuit that made its way to the Supreme Court docket in 2014; but the Parker Green plan and the resulting settlement agreement led to the withdrawal of the lawsuit. Construction is underway on additional units of affordable housing, which will be complete in late 2016.