Katrina's Window: Confronting Concentrated Poverty Across America

Alan Berube and Bruce Katz of The Brookings Institution have authored a report on concentrated poverty in the United States.

Hurricane Katrina’s assault on New Orleans’ most vulnerable residents and neighborhoods has reinvigorated a dialogue on race and class in America. This paper argues that the conversation should focus special attention on alleviating concentrated urban poverty—the segregation of poor families into extremely distressed neighborhoods.

The authors note that New Orleans was ranked second—behind Fresno, Calif.—in terms of concentrated poverty in large cities. What are the human costs?

  • reduced private sector activity
  • increased prices of basic goods for low-income households
  • limited job networks and employment ambitions
  • fewer educational opportunities
  • higher levels of crime
  • poor physical and mental health
  • limited wealth-building
  • increased pressure on government services and fiscal resources
  • greater political and societal divisions

The authors offer a seven-point plan for correcting this problem. The complete paper is available in PDF form here.