By Johnny Magdaleno.
Even though national unemployment has dropped 4.5 percentage points since 2010, poverty continues its stubborn rise across the United States, and the city of Long Beach, California, is a case of this disconnect. It’s the second-biggest city in Los Angeles County, an economic region that’s currently at full employment and grew by $50 billion between 2009 and 2014, yet nearly 1 out of every 5 of its residents is living under the federal poverty line.
Civic stakeholders in the poverty issue have long cried for federal and state policies that wipe out employment barriers faced by low-income communities, more subsistence support from the federal government, redrawing zoning laws — all changes that have been vetted by urban researchers. But a new proposal from the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT), called the Urban Opportunity Agenda (UOA), suggests that on top of these pillars, cities should also be investing in local strategies that help households learn how to rein in their monthly spending.
The report sums up this idea with one simple, familiar quote: “A dollar saved is a dollar earned.”
Here’s how it works. The UOA provides a general assessment of how much money low-income families in 10 U.S. cities spend on transportation, electricity, water, groceries, medical care and other necessities, and encourages those cities to adopt that assessment into their own, hyper-local framework for addressing poverty. Alongside Long Beach, the report focused on other cities including Detroit, Miami, St. Paul and Philadelphia.