America’s Forgotten ‘Middle Neighborhoods’

January 5, 2017 | governing.com | PDF

by Paul C. Brophy & Ira Goldstein

An estimated 46 percent of the nation’s urban population lives in a category of neighborhoods that local governments pay little attention to: America’s “middle neighborhoods.” These neighborhoods are generally affordable and attractive, and they offer a reasonable quality of life, but many of them are in danger of decline.

Middle neighborhoods typically receive little or no attention from mayors, city managers and local housing officials, in part because they are not distressed enough to qualify for federal Community Development Block Grant funds and because financially stressed local governments seldom allocate local tax dollars to neighborhood-improvement strategies. Yet, these neighborhoods, which provide a substantial portion of local property-tax revenues, can easily tip into decline unless steps are taken to improve the investment psychology for them.

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