‘Knight Cities’ podcast: Mixed-income neighborhoods build better communities

Knight Cities podcast

City Observatory is a daily source of data analysis and policy recommendations on how to make cities successful. The site helps readers separate fact from fiction when it comes to cities.

This week, we talked with City Observatory founder and economist Joe Cortright. Here are five things you should know from our conversation:

1) Public housing residents who live in high-income or gentrifying neighborhoods have noticeably higher incomes than public housing residents who live in less affluent neighborhoods, thanks to “neighborhood effects.”

2) Having a good neighborhood around you, with safer streets, more economic opportunity and better schools, produces more opportunity for lower-income residents. It’s bad to be poor, but it’s worse to be poor living in a neighborhood where lots of other people are poor.

3) Careful studies show that outmigration rates from gentrifying neighborhoods are no higher than the rate in other poor neighborhoods that don’t gentrify. Neighborhoods that don’t gentrify don’t stay the same; they tend to lose population.

4) Gentrification — neighborhoods going from above-average poverty to below-average poverty — is extremely rare. If in 1970 you lived in a high-poverty neighborhood, 40 years later there would be only a 1 in 20 chance that your neighborhood would have below-average poverty.

5) Policies that support equity and economic mobility include these:

a) Avoid concentrating poverty.

b) Take advantage of the renewed interest in urban living to create more mixed-income communities.

c) Create opportunity for a wide variety of people to interact through their schools and civic commons.

Listen to my conversation with Joe here. And sign up for the “Knight Cities” newsletter to get alerts as soon as new conversations are posted.

Look for new “Knight Cities” content posted every week. You can follow us on Twitter at #knightcities or @knightfdn. And if you have ideas for people you’d like to hear from, please email me.

Carol Coletta is vice president of community and national initiatives at Knight Foundation. Follow her on Twitter @ccoletta.

If you’re interested in the success of cities, consider applying to the Knight Cities Challenge, a $5 million initiative to make the 26 Knight communities more successful. For the latest information on the challenge, be sure to follow @knightfdn and #knightcities on Twitter or sign up for our email newsletter. You can send questions to [email protected]. And you can peruse the winners of the first Knight Cities Challenge and apply – by noon ET on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2015 – at

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