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Poverty and the Geography of Opportunity Jennifer Jellison Holme Associate Professor Educational Policy & Planning Department of Educational Administration.

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Presentation on theme: "Poverty and the Geography of Opportunity Jennifer Jellison Holme Associate Professor Educational Policy & Planning Department of Educational Administration."— Presentation transcript:

1 Poverty and the Geography of Opportunity Jennifer Jellison Holme Associate Professor Educational Policy & Planning Department of Educational Administration The University of Texas at Austin

2 Shifting Focus: A Different Lens  Examine the problem of poverty through the geography of opportunity framework 1. What is the geography of opportunity?  Why does it matter?  How did current patterns come to be? 2. How does the geography of opportunity change our understanding of the causes of poverty, and of policy solutions?

3 Policy and Academic Discussions  Measuring/understanding the dynamics of poverty:  Poverty rates  Income gaps  “Near poor”  Disparities in outcomes:  Achievement  Graduation rates  College going rates  These measures and relationships, while important, tend to focus on the symptoms  They tell us little about the causes

4 Opportunity: Focus on the Causes  Thinking about opportunity helps to focus our thinking on the causes (Carter & Welner, 2014)  What is opportunity?  “A set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something” (google dictionary).  “A situation or condition that places individuals in a position to be more likely to succeed or excel” (Rosenbaum, 1995)  Opportunity is shaped by the opportunity structures in which we all live (powell, 2008; Briggs, 2005; Squires & Kubrin, 2006).

5 Opportunity Structure EducationHousingTransit Employment opportunities Banks/creditEnvironmentFresh foodHealthcare Opportunity structures are environmental factors that mediate our access to opportunity They can be physical, social, or cultural, such as stable housing, healthy and safe environments, high quality education, sustainable employment, political empowerment, and positive social networks (powell, Heller, Bundalli, 2011)

6 High Opportunity Neighborhoods Access to fresh, high quality food and traditional grocery stores Access to mainstream banks and traditional credit Access to schools with stable and experienced principal and teachers Ample employment opportunities (for low and high wage jobs) Fresh air/good environment and access to green space High quality housing options Access to medical facilities and doctors nearby

7 Low Opportunity Neighborhoods Limited access to traditional grocers, fresh food, reliance on corner stores Limited access to traditional banks, access to quick cash credit w/high interest rates Schools with less experienced teachers and principal, highly unstable (turnover) Employment opportunities limited Little green space, often low quality environment Low quality housing Limited access to medical facilities and doctors

8 What is the geography of opportunity?  The geography of opportunity= how opportunity structures are distributed spatially  “Place Matters”  “Whether we are highly skilled professionals or minimum-wage workers, place affects our access to jobs and public services (especially education), our access to shopping and culture, our level of personal security, the availability of medical resources, and even the air we breathe. The inequalities across places reinforce the inequalities among people.” (Drier, Mollonkopf, & Swanstrom, 2014, p. 4) (john powell, 2009)

9 Mapping Opportunity  Educational indicators (e.g., access to and quality of early childhood education, school poverty rates, graduation rates)  Health and environmental indicators (e.g. proximity to parks, toxic waste, vacant housing, and availability of healthy food),  Social and economic indicators (e.g., poverty, local unemployment, public assistance receipt).

10 Where do people live in relationship to opportunity? Black non-Hispanic Hispanic

11 Non-Hispanic White  African American and Latino/as disproportionately likely to live in low opportunity neighborhoods  Whites disproportionately likely to live in high opportunity neighborhoods  The geography of opportunity is closely connected to patterns of racial and economic segregation Where do people live in relationship to opportunity? r

12 How did these patterns come to be? Origins in federal policy  Patterns are similar across metro areas: Why?  Not a result of “natural preferences”  Origins in policy- primarily federal housing policy, along with private actors (realtors and banks)  Current patterns began in the early 20 th century w/growth of cities  1910s/20s (industrialization)  1920s: Good economy, increase in home building and ownership  1930s- Depression, default  Federal government stepped in  Home Owners Loan Corporation (HOLC) (1933)  Federal Housing Administration (1934)  HOLC: refinanced risky loans  To assess home values and to mitigate risk, HOLC created a standardized, national real estate appraisal system to assess neighborhood quality  In the new system, race played a significant role in evaluations of neighborhood quality  From these neighborhood appraisals, the HOLC created “Residential Security Maps” to guide lending  Neighborhood risk –Grades A (Green, best); B (Blue, good); C (low/changing) to D (Red, undesirable)  Race played a big role in neighborhood evaluation  Any blacks = red grade  =ineligible for loans  =“Redlining”

13  Example

14 Damaging Effects of Federal Housing Policies  HOLC: Refinanced only risky mortgages=smaller market  Residential Security maps/biased appraisal had a much greater impact on the housing market with the 1934 establishment of the FHA:  Not a lender, it insured banks  Goal was to encourage lending and stimulate housing market  Low cost, fixed rate, long-term mortgages=very affordable to buy a house; home ownership accessible for middle class  Stimulated a great deal of housing construction, particularly for newly returning vets after WWII who had VA housing benefits  FHA mandated that private banks adopt biased appraisal system to receive FHA backing = “Redlining” adopted widely by private lenders  FHA also encouraged use of restrictive covenants to keep neighborhoods racially stable  Prohibited owners from selling property to a family of color, mixed race, or Jewish families

15 Lasting Effects  Result = Families of color were prevented from buying homes in urban cores/redlined areas; yet locked out of newly developing, affordable suburbs  Between 1934 and 1962, the federal government backed $120 billion of home loans. More than 98% went to white homebuyers (Leadership Conference on Civil Rights)  Effects on cities  Incentivized suburban flight: Made it easier/more affordable to buy in suburbs (for whites) than to remodel/reinvest in urban core  Fueled disinvestment in cities: Some urban communities (Camden, NJ) received no FHA backed loans during some years  Effects on wealth of families:  Whites got a part in the American dream and homeownership w/low cost federally backed loans – asset to pass to children  Blacks & Hispanics were denied loans and opportunity for wealth creation

16 Effects of these Processes on Geography of Opportunity  Results:  Major gaps in wealth by race (Oliver & Shapiro, 2006)

17 Median Net Worth Gaps by Race 2013: With and Without Home Equity

18 Effects of these Processes on Geography of Opportunity  Results:  Major gaps in wealth by race (Oliver & Shapiro, 2006)  Enduring patterns of economic and racial segregation  … Between city and suburbs-esp. due to ability of suburbs to incorporate into separate cities

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20 Effects of these Processes on Geography of Opportunity  Results:  Major gaps in wealth by race (Oliver & Shapiro, 2006)  Enduring patterns of economic and racial segregation  … Between city and suburbs-esp. due to ability of suburbs to incorporate into separate cities  Left urban core cities and urban school systems with increasing need and declining levels of resources  (Some inner ring suburbs also racially isolated and even worse off).

21 Urban/suburban school district disparities

22 Why do patterns of economic and racial segregation matter?  These patterns affect individual life outcomes: Experimental studies moving people to higher opportunity neighborhoods yields positive health, employment, educational outcomes (Turner et al., 2012, Sabonmatsu et al., 2011, Rosenbaum, 1995).  These patterns affect student achievement: Research has shown that high poverty schools depress the achievement of even middle and upper income students; conversely there are documented benefits of moving low income students to a low poverty school (Caldas & Bankston, 1997; Coleman, 1966; Perry & McDonney, 2010; Rumberger &Palardy, 2006; Shwartz, 2010; Palardy, 2008).  These patterns make it very difficult for schools to function effectively. Creating high performing, high poverty schools exceedingly difficult (Bryk et al., 2010; Harris, 2007)  Findings on these issues some of the most consistent in educational research, w/largest effect sizes

23 Focusing on the Geography of Opportunity = Reframing Policy Solutions Current Policy Approaches Causes Individual/family factors (i.e. parental education, parental income, culture) Low quality schooling Solutions Invest in individuals and families Improve schools and educators (through standards, incentives, & sanctions) Geography of Opportunity Approaches Causes Patterns of economic and racial segregation that affect families’ access to resources and ability to achieve outcomes Solutions Reduce segregation and poverty concentration Change /ameliorate dynamics of segregation through intentional policy

24 Addressing Poverty by Changing the Geography of Opportunity  Need is for place-based strategies/investment:  Early education, economic development, family supports, school- community linkages  And regional strategies to change dynamics of inequality:  Housing mobility/targeted location of affordable housing to give families access to high opportunity schools and neighborhoods (i.e. Montgomery County, MD)  School choice: inter-district policies that promote economic diversity in schools (Learning Community); inter-district magnet schools.  Inter-governmental collaboration to address inequality (i.e. the Learning Community; Portland Metro Council; Twin Cities Met Council).  Resource sharing (Learning Community; Twin Cities): everyone gains when the region gains  Results: Increased opportunity within communities and a strengthened region for all.

25 Questions? Jennifer Jellison Holme The University of Texas at Austin jholme@austin.utexas.edu 512-475-9398


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