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

Community Leaders Aim To Make Chatham A Shopping Destination

January 31, 2018 | CBS Chicago

By Chatham, Local TV, Roseanne Tellez

Chatham, a South Side community often in the headlines for the wrong reasons, is looking to change that perception. Leaders want to put Chatham on the map for shopping. So, business owners and community leaders are launching a “Buy Chatham” initiative to get more people to spend money there.

Read the Full Article and Watch the Video »

New Philadelphia home-repair loan program available to residents in middle neighborhoods

January 18, 2018 | The Philadelphia Inquirer

By Caitlin McCabe

This summer, the city of Philadelphia will launch a $100 million initiative called the “Housing Preservation Loan Program.” Congratulations to Council President Darrell Clarke, as well as Councilwoman Cherelle Parker, the Healthy Rowhouse and other housing advocates in the Philadelphia metro area! A feature of Housing Preservation Loan Program (much unlike a housing program implemented in Baltimore that used private lending loan pool) is that it draws from city resources and will provide low-interest loans at a 3% rate to thousands of its middle neighborhood residents with houses in disrepair. Currently, recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau finds that “more than 160,000 homes in the Philadelphia metro area experienced roof leaks. Nearly 120,000 had a crumbling foundation. At least 70,000 homes had mold.” And lastly, about 258,000 households reported experiencing many hours of “uncomfortable cold.” The Housing Preservation Loan Program will dole out up to $25,000 per applicant and contribute to other home-repair grant programs to alleviate the city’s housing problems.

Read the Full Article »

The Lifeblood of Cities: “Middle” neighborhoods—neither affluent nor poor—remain crucial to urban success

January 9, 2018 | City Journal |

By Aaron M. Renn

The media tend to portray urban neighborhoods as either booming gentrified districts or zones of impoverishment. Neighborhoods in between get overlooked. But these older urban and inner-suburban “middle neighborhoods” may be where the next generation of urban problems—or solutions—will be found. Cities once held vast tracts of such neighborhoods, populated by workers in manufacturing or the civil service. With what analysts call a “barbell” economy dividing increasingly into rich and poor, it’s no surprise that urban middle-class neighborhoods are feeling squeezed.