by James Jennings
The United States federal administration’s recent Promise Neighborhood and Choice Neighborhood initiatives are part of increasing calls for place-based strategies in the delivery of education and human services in inner cities. Within this new policy context, measures of community-level inequality emerge as a key tool for identifying places which manifest relatively high levels of social and economic distress and where this condition places acute pressures on local servicedelivery nonprofits. Measuring and spatially showing levels of neighborhood social and economic distress can enhance our understandings of the needs associated with low-income communities and facilitate civic engagement in the development of neighborhood-based responses. A ‘‘neighborhood distress score’’ can be generated and used to target services into urban areas but can also encourage greater resident civic participation. This score is based on the variables identified in the literature and input from community and civic leaders in Boston, MA.
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