Stack em high

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What level of concentration of poverty is the right amount? Is it right for the state to create destination cities for the poor?

As it stands, the state will, whenever possible, place the poor it is “helping” in areas of cities where housing values are extremely low in order to maximize their own ability to give people shelter.

Seems to be right from the immediate bean-counting standpoint, but if you think about it, it can create a death spiral for cities, which are already deep in the trough fiscally.

Let’s start with the numbers.  In Massachusetts, the following Middle Cities have easily met their “state target for affordable housing”:

  • Holyoke – 21%
  • Springfield – 17%
  • Lawrence – 15%
  • Worcester – 14%
  • Brockton, Lowell, Lynn – 13%
  • New Bedford – 12%

Do we really want to have the state concentrate even more poverty in Holyoke, Springfield or these other cities? Shouldn’t other towns have to pick up a share of the responsibility?

How do they afford to provide the kinds of services these new arrivals need? How much of an additional public safety burden is it?  What level of disruption to or limitation on the schools–and more importantly to the kids–is it?  How is it possible for the poor to find work in areas where unemployment is higher than elsewhere in the state?  How can you attract middle-class residents and businesses when your streets aren’t safe and your schools stink?  Aren’t we locking in a culture of low expectations in these cities?

The long-term costs associated with the policy of “stackin em high” are higher than you might think.

Can we all at least agree intelligently that we are being stupid?