In many cities, up to 40 percent of residents live in middle neighborhoods, representing a major source of municipal fiscal health. Even so, these neighborhoods are not adequately serviced by the market or supportive public policies, nor are they beneficiaries of large-scale philanthropic support. As a result, in the face of colliding demographic, socio-economic, and market changes in cities and regions across the country, middle neighborhoods are steadily disappearing.
Around the nation, policymakers, community leaders, and researchers are mobilizing a groundswell of support to reverse this trend. Early results thus far are promising. Owing to the efforts of growing community of practice, there has been substantial progress documenting and sharing strategic interventions that stabilize and strengthen middle neighborhoods. Current efforts include determining next steps to broaden and diversify a national movement.
“Building Advocacy for Middle Neighborhoods,” the second national middle neighborhoods convening in Cleveland, OH on November 13th-14th, 2018, will further this movement, with approximately one hundred and fifty participants who will gather over a day and a half at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland with support from The American Assembly, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, National Alliance of Community and Economic Development Associations, and local organizations including Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation and Cleveland Neighborhood Progress.
In 2015, The American Assembly and the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank initiated an investigation of middle neighborhoods, to raise awareness and increase understanding of these neighborhoods. Some findings of their research efforts concluded that:
- Little is being done to fortify the places where the majority of working and middle class families live and work—and an ounce of prevention is far less expensive than the pound of remediation needed once a neighborhood has declined.
- In some cities, middle neighborhoods are home to more than half of its total population, representing a significant portion of the local tax base.
- A large percentage of people of color live in middle neighborhoods. Because homeownership has long been a primary driver of intergenerational wealth in the U.S., eliminating disparities in homeownership is one of the most powerful ways to narrow the wealth divide and its disproportionate impacts on African American families.
In the fall of 2017, a national meeting in Baltimore, MD at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond brought together leading authorities and local advocates to understand middle neighborhoods. The meeting and subsequent report, the Middle Neighborhoods Action Agenda, were built from a year of outreach conducted for On the Edge: America’s Middle Neighborhoods (2016), an authoritative book combing research, case studies, and essays edited by Paul C. Brophy and published by The American Assembly and The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
Learn more about our “Building Advocacy for Middle Neighborhoods” meeting in Cleveland, OH.