Skip to main content

Article Summary

Bollens, Scott 1997. "Concentrated Poverty and Metropolitan Equity Strategies." Stanford Law and Policy Review 8(2):11-23.

Scott Bollens argues that regional governance can be a useful tool for combating metropolitan poverty. However, it is currently unworkable because the focus is on things regionalism, when people regionalism is actually what is needed. Things regionalism is based on systems maintenance, while people regionalism is based on lifestyle.

The current model of regional governance (things regionalism) is limited in its ability to combat urban poverty because it does not adequately address social equity, and fragments the collective regional interest, turning it away from anti-poverty concerns. Often, regional entities are established for the purpose of economic competitiveness and are biased toward single-purpose goals.

In order for regional governance to be effective in addressing metropolitan poverty, it must have comprehensive power to make tradeoffs across policy areas and political borders, rather than being restricted to narrow policy fields and single constituencies. It must take into account, as a whole, the lifestyles of the communities within the region, and the interactions between communities.

Regionalism and Metropolitan Equity Strategies

A hugely disproportionate number of people in poor neighborhoods are minorities, especially African-Americans, and this segregation leads to a perpetuation of poverty and a deterioration of inner-city neighborhoods. The methods he presents for combating this racial polarization can be classified under in-place (targeted community development) or mobility (movement of the poor out of inner-city neighborhoods).

Regional governance, because of its geographic reach and close ties to local sentiment, is in an ideal position to use both in-place and mobility strategies for combating the deterioration of poor neighborhoods. To do this, regional governance must rise above the traditional focus on things regionalism and instead focus on people regionalism.

With this as background, the article discusses ten regional planning strategies for metropolitan equity, designed to achieve integrated inner-city and suburban communities. Each strategy depends on an ability to transcend the historical limitations of regional governance. (Strategies listed below.)

It is important to understand the connection between Bollens theories on effective regionalism and his approaches to metropolitan equity. To counter the growing poverty of central city neighborhoods, in-place community development is necessary but insufficient. Deconcentration also must be employed in order to balance the distribution of jobs and housing across a metropolitan region. The best way to achieve this is through equity strategies advanced by regional policy-makers who have the power and inclination to launch a comprehensive, multi-tiered attack on concentrated poverty.

Bollens Metropolitan Equity Strategies:

1. Channel federally-assisted housing expenditures to lessen racial concentration

2. Establish a regional government campaign against residential segregation

3. Limit regional suburban sprawl

4. Require fair-share affordable housing obligations

5. Encourage balanced distribution of jobs and housing

6. Target regional transportation and redevelopment strategies

7. Modify development review to advantage distressed areas

8. Site LULUs (locally unwanted land uses) based on equity criteria

9. Develop guidelines for local integration maintenance programs

10. Attack root fiscal reasons behind ineffective municipal planning