In the news
As a young man, Clifford Rowe played bass for Elvis Presley, performing on glittering stages across the United States.
As an old man, he slept on a park bench two blocks from his childhood home in Northeast Washington, wrapped in a military sleeping bag, his beloved guitars cinched to his waist with bungee cords.
In 1990, at the age of 29, I put together a small team to rescue a crumbling, bankrupt 1920s hotel in New York’s Times Square. The building was essentially a burned-out and infested flophouse, but our determined bunch restored it to its original splendor, eventually creating 652 studio apartments for low-income New Yorkers, especially those exiting homelessness.
In New York City, unemployment has fallen well below the 10%-plus peak it reached after the global financial meltdown and recession of 2008. While that’s hopeful news, it obscures a glaring divide: This recovery hasn’t benefitted the city’s neighborhoods equally. Take Brownsville, Brooklyn, for example, where only 56% of the working-age population is employed or actively looking for work, compared with 63% citywide.
Multi-generational poverty is a chronic problem in many U.S. cities these days. Studies show that children who are born into poverty due to unemployment, low wages, illness or other factors are often likely to repeat that cycle throughout their lives.
It’s not as if these people fail to recognize the credos that fostered the American work ethic: effort, elbow grease and ingenuity, researchers say. But they lack opportunity: The social and economic networks within their reach are limited and don’t always allow for success.
A Montgomery County nonprofit helped give a previously homeless, disabled veteran a new home on Veterans Day. The effort is part of the Zero: 2016 campaign to end homelessness for all veterans in the county by the end of 2015. "I thought it was impossible," U.S. Army veteran Heyradine Oumarou said.
More vacant parcels and derelict buildings across the country are returning to productive use as urban farms and other food-related enterprises, according to a recent report from PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Urban Land Institute.
It's a movement evident in Hartford, too, from community gardens dotting city neighborhoods to veggies growing at onetime industrial locations like the former Swift Factory site in north Hartford, where plans call for a food-centered project to energize the economically challenged neighborhood.