The word blight typically refers to plants that are withered or rotting due to disease. Urban relates to or refers to a city or characteristic of city life. When the two terms are put together, urban blight refers to the deterioration and decay of buildings and older areas of large cities, due to neglect, crime, or lack of economic support.
I refer to my little part of North Hollywood as Urban Blight because of the closed and fenced in Coco’s that has been shut down since March 14th 2009. Although the developers have e-mailed me that they will be building low income housing in the lot, already 20 people have started living there for a very low rent: they are homeless and encamped in the bushes. They can use the faucet by 7-eleven for fresh water and bathing and walk half a block to Jack in the Box for the restroom. A two story office building is thickly encased in movie posters and has been for over a year. Like one really big re-gifted present: it is poorly wrapped and remains unopened. Within a mile from my home are three strip clubs and one sex store/strip club combo. Store fronts stand empty and buildings are falling down. Even the American flag over the post office has seen better days: it waves all night, unlit in the dark with fist sized holes and a tattered fringe.
The people who live here are not unintelligent – they have just given up. They quietly accept an under performing public school system that many of them have dropped out of. They did not stay in school or gain the skills to span the Skills Gap of employment. Simple, unskilled jobs and those requiring minimal training have been taken out of the market place and moved over seas.
How do we expect to move people into work and out of poverty when 40 states have outsourced administration of electronic benefit cards for the food stamps program offshore. Does it seem at all contradictory that the WORK in the Welfare to Work program is being done in other countries. seriously? We couldn’t train the people receiving public benefits to work in this program?
Private vocational “schools” are one of the few businesses making money in the area. They are targeting these people who did not get their GED or High School diploma and charging them money for a free education. Then they are telling them to take on between $2 and $20 thousand dollars in debt to get a education that would be almost free at the local community college. 9 months to 2 years later, these neighbors of mine have vocational certificates and a great deal of debt but no viable career path.
Businesses that need to be moved into the blighted portions of our cities:
- Call centers for customer service,
- bicycle repair (seriously, do you know how many people can not afford cars but do have bicycles – check out skid row),
- manufacturing plants – I know this was a DUH: but think of everything we ship in – clothing, shoes, toys, cars, tooth brushes, make up, home electronics. We could buy them if we got paid to make them. Isn’t that the principle of how Henry Ford paid his labor staff?
- Medical and Dental offices. – these create jobs in reception, medical assistance, back office, as well as construction and equipment sales. Anywhere there are people, there will be medical and dental needs – and as the wives of off ashore corporate business men have pointed out : no one wants to live where there isn’t plenty of access to good medical care. These are #’s 8, 16 and 22 on The Department of Labor’s fastest growing occupations list.
- Retail. It draws in tax dollars from neighbors who shop there, opens up customer service positions, builders must make the space and all the middle management, truckers., stockers, etc . . .
- Infrastructure and other construction businesses. Build the new offices and contract out from the city and county to fix the potholes and make it more attractive, etc.
- Churches, Temples and other places of worship. Even of you are not religious, you can see the wisdom of pulling large groups of people together for an hour or two on their day off from work and in between meal hours. They are then free to stick around and shop in your retail outfits and eat in the restaurants.
Businesses that we seem to have plenty of are Used Car Dealerships, Veterinarians, pet stores, car repair garages, fast food restaurants, thrift stores and strip clubs. Technorati Tags: urban blight,employment,inner city,poverty,welfare