What are middle neighborhoods?

Middle neighborhoods are a category of neighborhoods that are neither clearly healthy and thriving, nor overtly distressed.  Long seen as stable communities for middle and working class families, today many middle neighborhoods are on the edge of growth or decline. 

As a result of demographic, socioeconomic, and market trends in regions across the country, middle neighborhoods are steadily disappearing.  In regions with strong economies, middle neighborhoods confront challenges such as the displacement of long-term residents and businesses and the loss of affordable housing.  More commonly, middle neighborhoods are faltering in their ability to successfully compete for today’s homebuyers, retail shoppers, and responsible landlords – and therefore are at risk of falling into decline or distress.

This fate of middle neighborhoods has serious consequences for the long-term fiscal health of towns and cities, the quality of life for current residents, and the ability of current and prospective residents to build wealth and access opportunity. 

Introducing the middle neighborhoods initiative

Millions of middle-income residents call middle neighborhoods home, including many households of color.  Yet despite their prevalence in America’s cities and suburbs, middle neighborhoods tend to be overlooked by national and local policymakers and philanthropies.  But a community of policymakers, community leaders, and researchers are mobilizing attention and support to reverse the trend of the disappearance of middle neighborhoods.

A national initiative builds support for middle neighborhoods through research, policy analysis, communications, and advocacy.  This national initiative is organized by the National Community Stabilization Trust and advised by a Steering Committee of practitioners, policymakers, researchers, and funders working at national and local levels.

A growing Community of Practice (CoP) is documenting and sharing strategic interventions that stabilize and strengthen middle neighborhoods across the US.   This Community of Practice connects neighborhood practitioners and city officials to each other and to regional and national organizations interested in these efforts.  The CoP is supported by NeighborWorks America and a staffed by small team of organizers.

These national and local efforts share the common belief that a modest amount of investment has the potential to maintain middle neighborhoods as the heart of their communities, offering safe, affordable places to live with access to opportunity.  We welcome your participation in these efforts as we build a national movement to stabilize middle neighborhoods on the edge.