Giving Compass' Take:

• Governing magazine reports on the fate of America's so-called "middle neighborhoods" (which fall in-between the low-income and wealthy) and how they often do not receive the necessary investment to thrive.

• Funders committed to housing and economic development should look at how revitalization programs have worked in the past, and make sure that communities caught in the middle do not get the short end of the stick — the risk is that, if they continue to be neglected, they will plunge into poverty.

• On that note, here are nine rules for better housing policy.


Middle neighborhoods have been off the nation’s policy radar for decades. While many of them are relatively stable, others have become shaky in recent years, due to a lack of interest from governments and the private sector. That has left large shares of urban America at risk, particularly in older cities. In Philadelphia, 41 percent of residents live in what are defined as middle neighborhoods, where most people earn between 80 and 120 percent of the area median income, which in the Philadelphia region is $66,000. Nationwide, 48 percent of urban residents live in such neighborhoods, which tend to be more diverse than either wealthy or low-income areas.

“There are huge chunks of our cities that are not seeing rapid growth, nor are they completely desolate, economically isolated places,” says Jeffrey Verespej, who runs a community development corporation in Cleveland. “They’re not as sexy as high-investment, high-growth neighborhoods and lack the moral imperative to help those who are truly needy.”

But they’re increasingly under threat. The reality is that no place stays exactly the same year after year. All neighborhoods evolve. The question is what direction they’re moving in, and what forces are pushing them that way. Middle neighborhoods have a lot working against them. Most are not especially close to downtown and lack the anchor institutions such as universities or hospitals that spur new investment. Residents of middle neighborhoods generally don’t receive assistance from poverty programs. At the same time, they don’t have access to capital, either.

Read the full article about the importance (and neglect) of America's "middle neighborhoods" by Alan Greenblatt at Governing magazine.