Charities; No Meaningful Solutions to Communities Reeling from Economic Disinvestment


economic disinvestment : photo of vandalized houseIn every major city across the US, there are pockets of urban poverty. Blighted areas, peppered with housing projects and dilapidated houses. The typical businesses that survive these locales are check cashing stores, fried chicken fast food restaurants, and dollar stores. Additional retailers that locate in these tracts include, often foreign-owned liquor stores, ambiguous corner stores, beauty supply retailers, and convenience stores. The lack of economic development and opportunity are the outgrowth of economic disinvestent. It is often too easy to conclude that the fault of these conditions is strictly that of local residents. Consequently, these urban tracts of despair are oppressive, sweltering urban desserts. They offer communities no solutions to poverty. What they offer is further exploitation.

Federal Monies Re-routed from Marginalized Communities

Federal dollars don’t reach disenfranchised communities. Subsequently, what you see as a result are littered trash along highways and roads, overgrown grass, and un-maintained public spaces and sidewalks. This neglect becomes a safety issue. Old boarded up houses in disrepair on neglected lots have long been a tolerated nuisance. They are safety hazards that welcome and nurture crime. Furthermore, streets are riddled with disrepair. In one metropolitan city in the Midwest, rows of charred houses, partially burned in the 1990’s remained standing a decade later.

Charities no Consolation for Economic Disinvestment

Although charities provide temporary relief to individuals and families struggling with the trials of poverty, they do not offer real community solutions. Neither are they a consolation to economic disinvestment. With economic development and opportunity comes a certain dignity and respect that charities can neither replace nor substitute. Moreover, in their role, they do not invest in communities. Charitable organizations benefit directly from the communities they serve. Yet, they contribute no tangible solutions to end the cycle of poverty.

Rising Above Conditions

Although progressive anti-discrimination housing legislation was enacted during the Lyndon Johnson administration, it lacked provisional oversight to counteract widespread discriminatory practices in the housing and financial industries. Furthermore, administrations that followed were far less attentive, or politically savvy in combatting long established racially segregationist policies. This has left prospective, optimistic home buyers exposed to predatory lenders, corrupt landlords, and unscrupulous politicians, desperate to maintain political office. Now, nearly 50 years later, those shortcomings are more apparent as children struggle to rise above the conditions of their surroundings.