Driving through many of Syracuse’s neighborhoods today, one can’t help but notice the boarded up vacant houses, trash-strewn vacant lots, crumbling porches, and chipping paint. One might ask, how did this happen? How did we get here? And, what impact does neighborhood blight have on the city and its residents? What are the consequences to living in unstable and unsafe housing? And how does it affect our residents’ access to opportunity?
There’s been a lot of talk about “poverty” in Syracuse lately. National reports have identified Syracuse as owning one of the highest rates of poverty in the country – and according to one study, the highest rates of concentrated poverty among Blacks and Latinos. This national attention has provided a necessary shock to the system. Business, political, and community leaders are rallying around the issue of poverty (and concentrated poverty) more than ever before. New York State, meanwhile, has commissioned anti-poverty initiatives in Syracuse, along with several other Upstate cities, where similar dynamics of concentrated poverty are prevalent. For those of us who have long been working in the low-income communities of Syracuse, this is all welcome. For us to really move the needle on poverty, it must become a community priority. However, in order to “do something about poverty”, we must be committed to a deeper understanding of the issue and strategies that lead to real and lasting change.
We are excited to announce our second priority area: Economic Opportunity. More specifically, ensuring that people have the resources, environment, skills, and tools necessary to pursue their life goals and make a living sufficient to support a high quality of life - in keeping with one’s own potential, and irrespective of their starting point on the social and economic ladder.