Restructuring the Philadelphia Region: Metropolitan Divisions and Inequality

By Carolyn Adams; David Bartelt et al. | Go to book overview

6
WHO TAKES RESPONSIBILITY FOR ADDRESSING INEQUALITY?

The opportunity gaps separating different locations across the region are likely to widen unless they are addressed by public policies. In Chapter 1 we argued that differences between places exacerbate differences in the quality of life for the region's population. In our chapter-bychapter examination of the distributions of employment, housing, and education, we have paid particular attention to efforts being made to overcome the inequalities in our regional landscape. Looking for those public and private actors who are currently addressing the region's uneven development, we have been struck by how many of them work in the third sector.

Policy research on urban development has traditionally focused on local government as the agent of change. In the period following World War II, local governments became increasingly involved in the physical redevelopment of cities. Our previous book on Philadelphia devoted a chapter to this postwar redevelopment process, showing that during the 1960s, Philadelphia had one of the nation's most active city governments using federal funds to retrofit the downtown area to accommodate the economic shift from a manufacturing to a service economy. Federal legislation encouraged local governments to form partnerships with profit-making investors to rebuild stagnant central cities. Typically local government took responsibility for purchasing and clearing land, rezoning, and offering tax abatements to private developers to build on the land.

That is hardly surprising, since local government officials are essentially stewards of places. They have a strong stake in sustaining the vitality of the

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