Giving Compass' Take:

• Patrick Spauster reports on a partnership in Northeast Buffalo that combines services for kids and their parents to alleviate poverty. 

• How can donors help address poverty in America?

• Here’s how philanthropy can address poverty.

What would happen if service providers in a community worked together to combine services for kids and their parents and help break the cycle of poverty? A partnership in Northeast Buffalo has been working toward this since 2012. Through the Family-Centered Community Change (FCCC) initiative, service providers specializing in education, child care, housing, and job training aim to support families in poverty in a Northeast Buffalo neighborhood.

The partnership uses a “two-generation” approach—combining interventions for children and parents in the same household—to try to move the needle on poverty in the community. But the partnership, which works in a neighborhood previously called the Buffalo Promise Neighborhood, quickly found that barriers beyond its control constrain its ability to support families.

Our new report explores how large, contextual challenges have hindered Buffalo’s—and the other two FCCC communities’—efforts to move families with low incomes toward greater economic independence and how community change efforts can address these obstacles.

Insufficient housing
A shortage of affordable housing—a problem that affects communities across the US—is a significant challenge for families in Buffalo. Only 50 affordable units are available for every 100 people who need them in Erie County. And for those with stable housing, rent and utility costs are increasing even as the quality of housing deteriorates.

Current policy approaches don’t do enough to address the housing shortage. The waiting list for housing voucher assistance in Buffalo is 54 months long. One service provider told us, “The formulas they use for the credits don’t give families enough. The tax credits don’t make housing here more affordable for families.”

And in a neighborhood where 65 percent of residents are black, redlining and other racist policies have historically denied them access to homeownership and quality housing. And now, the neighborhood is gentrifying, pushing out many long-term residents. One parent in Buffalo told us, “Oh, it’s a lot of people moving in and out, a lot of people. Five people just moved out this block in one month.” When families move out of the neighborhood, service providers can’t reach them.

Read the full article about tackling poverty in Northeast Buffalo by Patrick Spauster at Urban Institute.