On the Edge

On the Edge, a book edited by Paul C. Brophy, aims to stimulate a national dialogue about middle neighborhoods. Presented in a series of case studies and essays by leading policymakers, community development professionals, and scholars, this volume explores the complex web of communities transitioning—for better or worse—across America. The shrinking middle class as well as growing income segregation and inequality in the United States is the backdrop for this publication. On the Edge authors provide ideas for action and advocate for new and innovative community, housing, and education policies to better support on-the-edge neighborhoods and create opportunities for the millions of people who live in them.

“One way to think about middle neighborhoods is they are on the edge between growth and decline. These are neighborhoods where housing is often affordable and where quality of life—measured by employment rates, crime rates, and public school performance—is sufficiently good that new residents are willing to play the odds and choose these neighborhoods over others in hopes they will improve rather than decline.” —Paul C. Brophy, Editor of On the Edge

On the Edge

On the Edge
By The American

Edited by
Paul C. Brophy



In the Media


July 25, 2017 | ceosforcities.com | PDF

by Paul C. Brophy 

Researchers at the Reinvestment Fund in Philadelphia report that 48 percent of central city residents in the United States live in “middle neighborhoods.” These neighborhoods are generally affordable and attractive and they offer a reasonable quality of life, but many are in danger of decline.

A shrinking middle class, the suburbanization of jobs, obsolete housing styles, and shrinking homeownership rates clouds the future of these middle neighborhoods that serve as the lynchpin of success for most American city regions.  Yet these areas—that provide a substantial portion of local property-tax revenue–are relatively ignored by policymakers who have focused on the problems of concentrated poverty, gentrification, and the need for downtown revitalization.

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“Anyone familiar with American cities will recognize middle neighborhoods. They are important components of diverse and changing urban settings. This book offers enlightening observations, analysis, and advice on middle neighborhoods that are useful to policy-makers, academics, urbanists, and city residents.”
—Tom Barrett, Mayor, City of Milwaukee