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PRRAC Update September 15, 2011

Welcome to the PRRAC Update! Every other Thursday, PRRAC sends out a brief digest of news, recent publications, and other points of interest related to our work in housing, education, and health. We welcome feedback and encourage you to forward to others. To join the PRRAC email list, click here.

New report on trends in poverty concentration in the 2000s

Rolf Pendall's new report for the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, A Lost Decade: Neighborhood Poverty and the Urban Crisis of the 2000s, provides an unsettling counterpoint to the alarming 2010 poverty data released by the Census Bureau this week. The report, written by the Urban Institute's Rolf Pendall, Elizabeth Davies, Lesley Freiman, and Rob Pitingolo, found that the number of people living in high-poverty neighborhoods increased nearly 5 million people since 2000, a significant setback compared with progress in the 1990s. Continuing an earlier trend, African Americans, Hispanics, and American Indians continue to be substantially more likely to live in high-poverty neighborhoods than white non-Hispanics, and people who live below the poverty line-especially minorities in poverty-are at special risk of living in high-poverty neighborhoods. The report also includes important analysis on the variations in concentrated poverty trends across different metro areas, the increasing racial/ethnic heterogeneity of many high poverty neighborhoods, and an analysis of the racial and economic trajectories, since 1970, of the original "ghetto" neighborhoods identified in the Kerner Commission report in 1968. The report was released last week at the Joint Center's Place Matters Conference (PRRAC was a co-sponsor of the report).

"One Nation Indivisible"

Beginning next month, the Poverty and Race Research Action Council (in collaboration with Harvard's Charles Hamilton Houston Institute) will launch a documentation and organizing project called ONE NATION INDIVISIBLE. Project co-directors are Susan Eaton and Gina Chirichigno. ONE NATION INDIVISIBLE identifies and visits places and talks to people across the country engaged in conscious efforts to create, sustain or improve racially diverse schools, neighborhoods, social institutions and workplaces. We document these efforts in written narratives, photos and short videos put on the One Nation Indivisible website (soon to come), in short case studies, through social media and within multimedia presentations given in venues across the country. The other, equally important part of our project uses national convenings and community based strategy sessions to mobilize and connect people on the ground to each other and to thinkers, strategists, researchers and advocates supporting diversity/integration on the national level. By telling and spreading stories about integration efforts, by building stronger and broader coalitions we hope to better harness the potential of diversity and win more support for pro-integration policies and programming on local, state and national levels. ONE NATION INDIVISIBLE will work closely with and support the National Coalition on School Diversity.

We are aware that many of you are engaged in important and effective work that aims to break down barriers to opportunity and create more inclusive, healthier, racially, culturally and linguistically diverse communities. If you know of organizations or communities engaged in promising efforts to achieve or improve racially integrated schools, communities or institutions, we would be grateful to hear from you. Please contact Susan Eaton or Gina Chirichigno.

Other news and resources

Progressive constitutional interpretation: This fall, the American Constitution Society (ACS) is hosting a weekly webinar series on the Constitution, beginning yesterday (whoops). Each 30-minute episode features a nationally-known guest lecturer who will present a webinar based on a chapter from the ACS publication, Keeping Faith with the Constitution. We'd like to especially mention the segment on "Equality" presented by PRRAC Board member Ted Shaw on October 5th. Visit ACS for more information about the series and "Continuing Legal Education" availability.

Section 8 vouchers and crime - the real story behind the myth: A HUD research symposium on September 19 will discuss a new report entitled Memphis Murders Revisited: Do Housing Voucher Households Cause Crime?, co-authored by Ingrid Gould Ellen (a member of PRRAC's Social Science Advisory Board). The report's title is based on a sensational and poorly researched Atlantic magazine article published in 2008, which drew a strong rebuke at the time from a wide range of social scientists (see the 2008 social science response). The research panel is open to the public and scheduled for Monday, September 19, 2011, 1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. at the Brooke - Mondale Auditorium, U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development. Click here to register.

Film screening and discussion: "I Am a Man": Join the Economic Policy Institute and PRRAC for an award-winning documentary film chronicling the 1968 Sanitation Workers strike in Memphis. Their protest, now best known as the final mass action joined by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. before his assassination, was at heart a demand by 1,300 African Americans to be treated like men. I Am a Man tells the story of the strike through the eyes of one its participants and a present day sanitation worker, Elmore Nickleberry. Tuesday, September 20, 2011 4:00 - 5:30 PM at the Economic Policy Institute, 1333 H Street NW, Suite 300, Washington, DC. RSVP here.

Reflections on 9/11: visit the W.K. Kellogg Foundation's America Healing Initiative's new Facebook page for reflections by racial justice leaders on the tenth anniversary of 9/11 and their hopes for a future of tolerance, reconciliation, and inclusion.

Philip Tegeler
Saba Bireda
Poverty & Race Research Action Council
Washington, DC

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