Nearly half of all urban residents currently live in a middle neighborhood. These are places that are neither hot market areas with rapidly rising prices, nor distressed areas with falling prices and rising vacancies. Rather, these are the affordable neighborhoods in their jurisdictions. On the edge between growth and decline, middle neighborhoods are generally affordable, stable, and safe, and they historically have played an important role building opportunity and prosperity.

Just as rising prices from gentrification can displace long-term residents, a failing middle neighborhood can have devastating trigger effects on its residents and its municipality. When neighborhoods decline, large numbers of modest-income households, many of whom are people of color, lose wealth due to declining home values. Failing middle neighborhoods can jeopardize municipal and school budgets, and increase appeals for federal and state support because declining home values mean a loss of property tax revenues.

Despite their importance, middle neighborhoods are the subject of very few strategic interventions and policies.

Learn more about the Middle Neighborhoods Action Agenda for a National Movement.

  • Henry CisnerosFormer Secretary of U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Founder and Chairman, CityView

    “Many attributes define the health of cities – economic strength, unemployment levels, cultural amenities, and physical attractiveness – but they all should manifest themselves in quality places to live. In that sense, sustaining decent, safe, and livable neighborhoods is the most basic purpose of a city. Preserving and enhancing a city’s middle neighborhoods is not peripheral strategy; it must be at the heart of efforts to strengthen a city. Paul Brophy has assembled a group of experts who have effectively identified the challenges, underscored the importance, and offered solid prescriptions for capitalizing on the urban assets which are the middle neighborhoods.”

  • Nancy CantorChancellor, Rutgers University, Newark

    “Is America a land of opportunity anymore? Can families who strive for educational achievement, home ownership, job security, and healthy lives, find a place in our cities today? Middle neighborhoods, the subject of this terrifically thoughtful volume, sit critically in the center of that landscape. The essays in this volume speak convincingly from the force of on-the-ground experience that middle neighborhoods can spearhead the broader effort to recapture America’s opportunity map. It is a must read at a time when it is too facile to give up and too urgent to wait to invest.”

  • Tom BarrettMayor, City of Milwaukee

    "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."

In the Media

The Importance (and Neglect) of America’s ‘Middle Neighborhoods’

June 2018 | Governing Magazine

By Alan Greenblatt

Gregory James bought his house way back in 1972. As he looks around at the stone-fronted rowhouses that line either side of his street in the Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia, he considers himself a relative newcomer. Out of 72 houses on the block, he counts 15 that are still occupied by the families who were already residing there when James arrived. Back in the 1970s, this part of Philadelphia was a choice neighborhood for middle-class blacks who were able to move themselves out of rougher parts of town.

Now the homes in Mt. Airy are aging, and so is the infrastructure around them. The houses may be structurally sound, but not enough attention is being paid to the condition of things like driveways, curbs and retaining walls. James complains that the city itself sometimes ignores his community. There are certainly neighborhoods that are worse off, but you don’t have to travel far to find others where services such as trash pickup are noticeably better. “When you go further north, it’s better, and when you go south, it’s worse,” says James. “If you stay here, you’re caught in the middle.”

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Dwight Evans seeks second term in Congress

April 27th, 2018 | The Philadelphia Tribune

By Michael D’Onofrio

Incumbent Dwight Evans said he will rely on a his political record and experience as a longtime politician against a political newcomer in the upcoming Democratic primary.

“Who is most effective and who will get things done?” Evans asked during a recent Philadelphia Tribune editorial board meeting. “I provide the kind of leadership that is necessary to address the issues.”

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McClinton wants gun violence declared a public health crisis

April 25th, 2018 | The Philadelphia Tribune

By Stacy Brown

During a series of hearings on gun violence before the House Judiciary Committee, state Rep. Joanna McClinton (D-191), highlighted what she called the disparity in coverage of gun violence between low-income communities of color and more affluent majority-white communities.

“While it took tragedies like the Parkland [Fla. high school] and Las Vegas shootings to gather us here, I would like to remind everyone that communities of color in Philadelphia, Delaware, Berks, Dauphin, Cambria and Allegheny counties have been victims of gun violence for decades,” McClinton said during her testimony.

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