Last week I went on school break with friends in Boston, which ironically is a college town. However this story begins with our commute in New York City to catch our bus ride to Boston. It all started with arriving at Port Authority in midtown Manhattan heading down south near the tip of the island to Chinatown, in order to catch that bus. We were running very late so we had to rush everything with the trains, transferring, and walking a few blocks. While my friend followed, I had to navigate through NYC’s transportation system on my own so I was very alert of my surroundings to ensure we were going the right direction.
As we ran down the escalators toward the metro card station, I saw three people asking for money. As I bought our metro card, I was directly asked for money. While waiting on the platform, I saw a young woman with a shopping cart filled with what I believe to be all her possessions. As we got on the train, within four stops we experienced a drum performance by an older gentleman who in the end was collecting money for him and his daughter and a dance performance by a young man who was collecting either money or food. While transferring, there were men sleeping against the wall. Within the next train, another man was selling candy to support his children. While rushing through the city streets, I noticed a cohort of homeless people living within an alleyway. Ultimately, we made it on to the bus to Boston, but I could not stop thinking about the extent of people in need of shelter, food, cloth, money, and more. I imagined if these were the only people I encountered within our 20 minute rush the extent of poverty is larger than estimated or under-reported on the news.
Hunger and homelessness needs to be a top issue. Although it may be vilified stating it is unimportant and discuss about how certain measures are being done since there is a decrease of 4% of homeless people since 2012 and 9% since 2007. Although these rates are misleading, specifically because counting the homeless for the US Census is usually under counted meaning there are more homeless than accounted for. Cuts and lack of attention toward poverty are committed due to the disconnection between the ways of life since represented citizens are voters with basic necessities and more. Based on different strategies found in Contemporary Urban Planning, community development initiatives need to take place more often. Whether they are job training or constructing affordable housing, all CD initiatives will revitalize these low income areas unlike the popularly seen gentrification process since it is increasing homelessness. Low cost housing is disappearing in the name of economic development. Local governments need to realize the poor are not disappearing. Experienced in Detroit’s newly developed areas, many homeless people are car driven by police officers out of the area to other suburbs and cities. Cities like Detroit need to recognize issues of their plight. Local governments should hone in on why or what the community is failing and use CD block grants for these projects. As part of economic development, policies should be put in place to require developers to build not only affordable housing, but also low cost housing. I think more emphasis on low cost housing needs to be put in place since affordable housing is based on media salaries of the area thus making affordable housing still affordable for lower incomes.