On the Edge - America's Middle Neighborhoods

2016. Paul C. Brophy (ed.)

On the Edge – America’s Middle Neighborhoods, a new book edited by Paul C. Brophy, aims to stimulate a national dialogue about middle neighborhoods. Presented through case studies and essays by leading policymakers, community development professionals, and scholars, this volume explores the complex web of neighborhoods transitioning—for better or worse—across America. 

“One way to think about middle neighborhoods is they are on the edge between growth and decline. These are neighborhoods where housing is often affordable and where quality of life—measured by employment rates, crime rates, and public school performance—is sufficiently good that new home buyers are willing to play the odds and choose these neighborhoods over others in hopes they will improve rather than decline.”

Paul C. Brophy, Editor of On the Edge

The declining middle class and growing income segregation and inequality in the United States is the backdrop for this publication. The authors of On the Edge provide fresh ideas for action and advocate for new and innovative community, housing, and education policies to better support on-the-edge neighborhoods—and create opportunities for the millions of people who live in them.

Published by The American Assembly, 2016

Published previously as Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Community Investment Development Review, Volume 11, Issue 1, 2016

For more information about the book, please visit www.middleneighborhoods.org.

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ACCOLADES for On the Edge

“Many attributes define the health of cities—economic strength, unemployment levels, cultural amenities, and physical attractiveness—but they all should manifest themselves in quality places to live. In that sense, sustaining decent, safe, and livable neighborhoods is the most basic purpose of a city. Preserving and enhancing a city’s middle neighborhoods is not peripheral strategy; it must be at the heart of efforts to strengthen a city. Paul Brophy has assembled a group of experts who have effectively identified the challenges, underscored the importance, and offered solid prescriptions for capitalizing on the urban assets which are the middle neighborhoods.”

-Henry Cisneros, former Secretary of U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Founder and Chairman, CityView

"Anyone familiar with American cities will recognize middle neighborhoods. They are important components of diverse and changing urban settings.  This book offers enlightening observations, analysis, and advice on middle neighborhoods that are useful to policymakers, academics, urbanists, and city residents."

-Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett

“Is America a land of opportunity anymore?  Can families who strive for educational achievement, home ownership, job security, healthy lives, find a place in our cities today?  No matter where you live and where you sit on the political spectrum, all of us have to care about rekindling a genuine sense of opportunity and possibility.  And we know that the answer will be investments in a complex web of neighborhoods from those that have been heartlessly abandoned and call for redress to those that seem now unreachable for most Americans and must be brought back to us.  Middle neighborhoods, the subject of this terrifically thoughtful volume by policy-makers, philanthropists, community development activists and scholars, sit so critically in the center of that landscape, beacons of some realistic hope for so many low-income and lower-middle income Americans, and they too deserve our investment and ingenuity. The essays in this volume speak convincingly from the force of experience on the ground that middle neighborhoods can spearhead the broader effort to recapture America’s opportunity map.  It is a must read at a time when it is too facile to give up and too urgent to wait to invest.”

-Nancy Cantor, Chancellor, Rutgers University - Newark

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