Morgan Stanley on achieving inclusive growth

Really interesting recommendations from Morgan Stanley and the Low Income Investment Fund on “investing in cities for inclusive growth”. Interesting because:

  • A major financial services company is proposing inclusive growth as a national priority and worthy of both public and private investments.
  • They embrace integration as the central strategy citing the work of the Equality of  Opportunity project on integrated neighborhoods being the most powerful lever to increase upward mobility of those growing up in low income households.
  • They recommend combining public and private investments in public transportation and low income housing as the prime strategy for achieving inclusive growth.  What they call equitable transit oriented development.

They write:

However, two key areas of public and private investment — transportation and affordable housing — can play a major role in addressing it. Investment in these areas helps determine where and how communities develop, who gets to live where, and what kinds of jobs, resources and amenities are available to them. When transportation and affordable housing efforts are coordinated, they can stimulate economic growth and vitality, while at the same time creating a more equal and fair society.

In particular, inclusive growth can be achieved through equitable transit oriented development (eTOD), which focuses on creating and preserving affordable housing and other community services around transit stations. eTOD is attractive because it generates a range of benefits on multiple scales: jobs, economic growth, social inclusion, greenhouse gas reductions and healthy, walkable communities. New research also suggests that if it is used to reduce social isolation and enable poor children to grow up in connected, economically diverse neighborhoods, eTOD can be an effective tool for helping them escape poverty as adults. One study showed that children under age 13 who moved out of high poverty areas and into higher-income areas, even for a short period of time, earned an average of 31 percent more as adults than those who remained in poor  throughout their childhoods.

The report describes investments in San Francisco that could serve as a model for this kind of initiative. And mentions Denver, Seattle, Atlanta, Salt Lake City and Los Angeles as other cities that are engaged in this kind of work. No mention of Detroit or any other Michigan city.

That needs to change. Michigan cities are among the most segregated in the country. And are places with some of the lowest mobility out of poverty. We need the kind of public and private investments described by Morgan Stanley.

Obviously in Detroit the defeat of the RTA mileage to expand transit is a major impediment to this kind of development. Metro Detroit continues to be THE national laggard in transit. As the RTA writes:

It leaves southeast Michigan as the only large region in the nation (and one of a few in the world) without a functioning regional rapid transit system.  That means residents still will lack a convenient transit connection to jobs, communities will remain unconnected to one another, economic development will be more difficult and seniors and people with disabilities will lack the greater independence a fully functional transit system would provide.

Not smart!

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