On March 23rd, the Penn Institute for Urban Research and the Community Development Studies and Education division of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia hosted the launch of the book Shared Prosperity in America’s Communities edited by Penn IUR’s Co-Director Susan M. Wachter and Lei Ding.
The event began with a welcome from Dr. Wachter, who introduced Patrick T. Harker, president and chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, former president of University of Delaware, and former dean of the Wharton School. Harker spoke about the book, and emphasized that policy makers need to take into account the intersection of inequality and place. He stressed that the current economic and demographic trends in Philadelphia would benefit from a dialogue where research can inform practice and vice versa. Harker then introduced the moderator, Theresa Singleton, vice president of the Community Development Studies & Education Department at the Federal Reserve Bank.
Singleton spoke about the geography of opportunity and economic segmentation in communities across the United States, and then introduced the event’s panel of speakers. Panelists included:
The first panelist to speak was Elizabeth Kneebone, who discussed the change in composition of high poverty neighborhoods and the current geographic distribution of poverty, including the new concentration of poverty within outskirts of city centers. Next, Paul Jargowsky commented on the importance of addressing educational issues by strengthening neighborhoods and improving other services, such as housing.
Eva Gladstein also emphasized the importance of housing. She discussed existing efforts to implement place-based strategies in Philadelphia, including the city’s “Shared Prosperity” plan, which aims to directly combat poverty. Some of the plan’s strategies include housing revitalization and early childhood education. Following on Eva’s comments, Laura Sparks urged the audience and panelists to “attack poverty now while we have momentum.” She also discussed some of the William Penn Foundation’s recent efforts to protect the watershed and the role of philanthropic efforts in bringing together community stakeholders to address inequality.
Before concluding, the panel addressed questions from the audience. Susan Wachter’s final comments stressed the importance of a holistic approach to poverty, including family-friendly neighborhoods, more green spaces, better schools and housing, and livable cities.