The St Louis Contrarian

Providing Independent and Intelligent Insight on St. Louis Public Policy Issues

Archive for the tag “brookings institution”

Rethinking homeownership incentives to improve household financial security and shrink the racial wealth gap

Jenny Schuetz discusses how a more balanced set of housing policies could both increase financial security (particularly for low- and moderate-income households) and shrink the racial wealth gap.
— Read on

A good article from Brookings as to why we should get away from mortgage interest deduction as a way to incentivize homeownership.


Garbage Research

I continue to be appalled by some of the garbage research that gets published in the name of social science and urban development. A recent one was published by The Brookings Institution titled The Devaluation of Assets in the Black Community. This is certainly a provocative title.

The research presumed to show that single family homes in the black communities are worth less than comparable houses in white communities. This is something that is hardly a surprise. These differences can be explained by lots of reasons, most prominently crime and schools. The authors made elaborate adjustments to properties and concluded there must be other reasons than the usual real estate ones for the difference in price. That difference of course was race.

If they could have shown comparable neighborhoods where everything was the same except race they could have made a point. Of course, they didn’t do any such thing.

My real problem is the concept of devaluation which assumes there is a proper value for any piece of real estate, or anything else. I could argue my house in St. Louis is devalued compared to San Francisco. These comparisons are meaningless. In St. Louis, black families moved out of historically black neighborhoods in huge numbers for reasons I stated, safety and good schools. Hardly surprising. Written by Paul Dribin

Housing Affordability

This article sees the problem as largely regional, on the coasts. I tend to agree. The National Low Income Housing Coalition uses the housing you can afford on the minimum wage. That is unrealistic. The minimum wage was not intended to be a living wage, people can double up, there are usually two income earners in a household, and most people who start out on minimum wage do not stay on it for long. Written by Paul Dribin

St Louis and Older Industrial Cities

A report from Brookings which analyzes overall strengths of older industrial cities, of which St. Louis is one. It actually gives St. Louis fairly high marks for its’ improvement and potential. Written by Paul Dribin

A Very Good Article About Housing Policy From Brookings

I particularly like that they talk about income subsidy as well.

Inclusive Cities

The Brookings Institution had a good article today about the need for inclusive cities. The issue facing almost all cities is that economic growth affects some people more than others and rarely benefits individuals on the lower end of the socio-economic scale. Here is the article:

Last year, voters in Indianapolis

approved a ballot measure increasing their income taxes to expand the core county’s mass transit system, a notable development in this red-state capitol. The 25-member city-county council formalized the deal with its own bipartisan endorsement of the plan to connect 220,000 more residents by frequent bus service. Church groups, social justice advocates, and business and civic leaders made the case that the transit expansion was essential for boosting economic competitiveness, workers’ access to opportunity, and neighborhood revitalization. These were not separate arguments but a

joint appeal, including the leading business chamber embracing the importance of closing the region’s economic and social disparities.


Amy Liu

Vice President and Director – Metropolitan Policy Program

Twitter amy_liuw

As Indianapolis transitions from an

older industrial city with rising poverty to an emerging tech hub, the city showed it could bring together a diverse coalition of grasstops and grassroots leaders, around a common narrative, to address the challenges and opportunities in their region. And, crucially, this wasn’t a one-off collaboration: Indianapolis’ economic development leaders are continuing to emphasize inclusion and new partnerships as part of their approach to growth and competitiveness.

Business leaders and economic development groups across most regions have traditionally seen equity and opportunity as mission creep. But Indianapolis’ experience is emblematic of a growing awareness emerging in cities across the country that, facing widening disparities, a wider spectrum of leaders will need to commit to building broad-based prosperity.

This shift benefits growth actors and traditional equity advocates.

Economic inclusion, the evidence shows, makes solid business sense, in addition to serving a moral purpose.

Economic inclusion, the evidence shows, makes solid business sense, in addition to serving a moral purpose. At the same time, firms and the economic development community are essential to building a dynamic regional economy that generates middle-class jobs and expanding pathways to those jobs with customized training programs. They help set the agenda in regions, bringing networks and funding to key issues. For community developers, social service providers, and workforce leaders who have long worked with underserved populations, business leadership groups can bring new attention, resources, and partnership to a growing challenge.

How can cities build and sustain these new coalitions for inclusive growth? Working with Brookings, the Indy Chamber, along with the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, underwent a rigorous, eye-opening process earlier this year to explore their potential role. Here are three lessons from that work:

A new approach demands a new way of understanding. Inclusion is a value and a mindset, not simply a program. For economic development organizations typically tasked with positively selling their region, acknowledging serious challenges and the limits of current efforts is fundamental to shifting strategy. Developing a data-driven “narrative” about regional economic inclusion challenges helps build consensus around these issues and convince new audiences of the imperative to address inclusive growth. In one region, business leaders came to terms with the startling fact that half of families earn less than $50,000, leaving them stretched to cover basic expenses. In others, leaders acknowledged that low educational attainment among diverse youth, high housing and education costs, and long job commutes posed barriers to opportunity and threatened regional competitiveness.

No single organization can deliver change. To achieve more meaningful, community-wide progress, economic development organizations and others will need to step out of their comfort zones. Community development organizations and non-profits, who have long focused on serving the needs of individual neighborhoods and populations, will need to plug into broader jobs initiatives to inform, and benefit from, new economic plans and opportunities. Educators and skills providers can partner with employers to design industry-relevant talent initiatives that provide new opportunities for residents and help economic developers more effectively attract and retain employers. As trite as it sounds, regions will make greater progress if leaders in economic, workforce, and neighborhood development joined efforts more often around shared goals.

New awareness ultimately needs to be translated to action. Indianapolis’ transit coalition offers one example of how leaders can partner to advocate for shared goals. The Nashville Chamber is supporting an even

larger bid to expand transit in that region. In San Diego, the City of San Diego, the community-based Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation, and the region’s prominent CONNECT innovation organization are working together

to locate an accelerator in the city’s Promise Zone. Other regions are also piloting approaches. A

new initiative in Northeast Ohio, for instance, unites job creators, community developers, and regional planners to concentrate development and job growth around a series of regional “job hubs” with the goals of reducing transit barriers for workers, providing employers with a more consistent labor pool, and limiting the expansion of the region’s spatial footprint.



Building inclusive cities: A framework an

Investment in Children’s Services

Brookings published an article today by Bruce Katz and Ross Tilchin entitle Investing in the next generation: A bottom-up approach to creating better outcomes for children and youth. The article states quite simply that strong investment in these services are the key to improving the quality of city life moving forward. Attached is the article:


The American dream is built on the promise of upward social mobility. In the middle of the 20th century, rates of upward mobility improved across the socioeconomic spectrum. But over the course of the past 30 years, the vast majority of our population has seen mobility rates stagnate.[1] For too many, the American dream has stalled. 


Bruce Katz

Centennial Scholar – Centennial Scholar Initiative

Twitter bruce_katz


Ross Tilchin

Senior Policy and Research Assistant

Restoring higher levels of social mobility will be among the most important political, social, and economic challenges of our time. Already, we’ve witnessed how frustration over this stagnation can destabilize our national institutions and divide our society. The longer we wait to address the issue, the more tumultuous our politics will become.

Making greater and more effective investments in children and youth will be the best way to improve social mobility throughout the nation. Research has demonstrated the positive long-term effects of providing a specific set of coordinated interventions from “cradle to career.”[2] Despite the conclusive evidence, our nation has been unable to provide those in need with access to the right kinds of services.

The time to act is now. The question is, who will lead the effort to expand these proven strategies? Over the past decade, it has become apparent that we cannot rely upon the federal government or the states. Washington and many state governments have been hijacked by partisanship, leading to paralysis on or hostility toward many of the policies and interventions necessary for improving outcomes for children and youth. The Trump administration’s May 2017 budget proposal called for nearly $10 billion in cuts to after-school funding, summer initiatives, teacher training, financial aid for lower-income students, and similar programs.[3]

The budgetary trend lines are also unmistakable. At the federal level, demographic realities are driving up spending on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. This will place enormous pressure on Washington’s contributions to programs for children and youth, which are expected to decline over the next decade by 25 percent or more as a percentage of GDP.[4] As Eugene Steuerle notes in his 2014 book Dead Men Ruling, only 2 percent of the projected $1.5 trillion increase in federal spending over the next decade will go to children.[5] And while some state governments have demonstrated a steady commitment to improving outcomes for youth, many are providing less funding for children now than they were before the Great Recession.[6]


Cities and refugees: The German experience

Getting attached: Parental attachment and child development

Localizing the economic impact of research and development

Fortunately, as higher levels of government have faltered, cities, counties, and metropolitan areas have stepped up. Local leaders have recognized that the issue of stagnant opportunity is far too urgent to wait for other levels of government to act. In communities across the country, leaders in local governments have joined forces with nonprofits, philanthropies, and businesses to increase the magnitude, quality, and coordination of cradle-to-career investments in the next generation.

These communities have realized that the existing composition of investments in young people, dominated by the safety net and the public education system, are not enough to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Technology and global competition have come to demand a higher degree of skills training than ever before, and many of the fastest growing demographic groups in our country face the steepest educational and developmental challenges. For local leaders, ensuring that children have access to meaningful opportunities is more than a social responsibility—it is an economic imperative for their communities.

Communities are therefore expanding programs that stretch well beyond the traditional set of public services provided to youth. They are investing in efforts like nurse visiting programs, early childhood education, supplemental academic and social curricula, after-school programs, and summer learning initiatives. They are tailoring interventions to align with their specific needs, coordinating across sectors and silos, and most importantly, drawing upon new sources of revenue to finance these efforts. 

Related Books

Upcoming The New Localism
By Bruce Katz and Jeremy Nowak

Dream Hoarders
By Richard V. Reeves

The Metropolitan Revolution
By Bruce Katz and Jennifer Bradley

These locally driven approaches to investing in children and youth are a part of a larger national trend. Over the past decade or so, cities and metropolitan areas have risen to the forefront of national problem solving across a wide range of policy areas. Solutions to many of our toughest problems—mitigating the effects of

climate change, financing major infrastructure projects, creating more innovative economies, to name a few—are now being crafted at the local level.[7] In communities of all stripes, leaders in every sector have come together to solve local problems at a level of sophistication that would have been unthinkable a few decades ago. As this self-sufficient and intensely networked style of local leadership has spread, it has given rise to a national movement—a New American Localism.

This paper provides an overview of the challenges associated with improving outcomes for children and youth, the intergovernmental obstacles that communities face as they expand supplemental cradle-to-career services, and the strategies individual communities have drawn upon to deliver better results for the next generation.


David Leonhardt, “The American Dream, Quantified at Last,” New York Times, December 8, 2016.

Isabelle V. Sawhill and Quentin Karpilow, “How Much Could We Improve Children’s Life Chances by Intervening Early and Often?” Brookings Institution, March 2015.

Stephenie Johnson et al., “The Trump-DeVos Budget Would Dismantle Public Education, Hurting Vulnerable Kids, Working Families, and Teachers,” Center for American Progress, March 17, 2017.

Sara Edelstein  et al., “Kids Share 2016: Federal Expenditures on Children Through 2015 and Future Projections,” Urban Institute, 2016.

Eugene Steuerle, Dead Men Ruling: How to Restore Fiscal Freedom and Rescue Our Future (New York, NY: Century Foundation, 2014).

Michael Leachman  et al., “Most States Have Cut School Funding, and Some Continue Cutting,” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities,” January 25, 2016.

Megan Greenwalt, “DC Water Authority Unveils WTE Project,” Waste 360, November 3, 2015; Meghan McCarty and Aaron Mendelson, “LA Says ‘Yes’ to Tax Increase for Transportation,” 89.3 KPCC, November 9, 2016; Bruce Katz and Julie Wagner, “What a City Needs to Foster Innovation,” Brookings Institution, January 16, 2014.

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