The ‘Just City’ — For America, Soon?

 For years debate about cities has focused on the economic side — steps they are urged to take to attract capital, recruit new businesses, lure creative professionals.

But what about justice?

Will our cities and metro areas, asks Ford Foundation president Luis Ubiñas, “live up to the aspirations of all residents, or just the privileged few?” Can we achieve “just cities, shaped by fairness, opportunity, a commitment to shared prosperity?”

It’s an appropriate point for the foundation whose dollars, starting in the 1960s, were critical in launching the community development movement with its boost for hundreds of grassroots housing groups in and for hard-pressed neighborhoods.

Again, the foundation seems to be moving ahead of the game, to important new ground. In the midst of uncertainty about the country’s future, our prevailing politics focus only tangentially on income disparities between our wealthiest income earners and the rest of America, and how those gaps have hit historic highs. And there’s a surfeit of anti-government rhetoric, even as poor and working-class Americans face exceedingly tough economic odds.

Can we then have a “Just City”? The Ford Foundation made this theme the center of a celebration this month marking the 75th anniversary of its founding. And its guests took up the challenge with gusto.

We need “to get comfortable,” said Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, “talking of poor and working class people together.” And why? “Nationally the discourse is just about the middle class and up — but we know the poor are getting killed.”

Read more at CitiWire


About Bob Voelker

Vice President and General Counsel, StreetLights Residential - Building Places that Life the Human Spirit.
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