Saturday, December 27, 2014

A new federal promise for Camden?

Obama to provide details about "Promise Zones"

A new federal promise for Camden?

President Obama will offer details today about the "Promise Zones" he announced in his State of the Union address Tuesday, the New York Times reports.

The president's address promised that his administration "will begin to partner with 20 of the hardest-hit towns in America to get these communities back on their feet." And while he has not yet revealed the list, Camden, NJ surely qualifies under any definition of "hardest hit."

Let's start with two: The city is the poorest, and among the most dangerous, in the United States. And as my colleague Claudia Vargas wrote in last Sunday's Inquirer, residents, grassroots organizations and faith communities are continuing their battle to make the city better, despite the odds.

The fact that the city's Center for Family Services received a $500,000 "Promise Neighborhood Planning Grant" from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in December suggests that Camden is on Washington, D.C.'s radar.

During his address, Obama said, "there are communities in this country where no matter how hard you work, it’s virtually impossible to get ahead.  Factory towns decimated from years of plants packing up.  Inescapable pockets of poverty, urban and rural, where young adults are still fighting for their first job...

"Let’s offer incentives to companies that hire Americans who’ve got what it takes to fill that job opening, but have been out of work so long that no one will give them a chance.  Let’s put people back to work rebuilding vacant homes in run-down neighborhoods...We’ll work with local leaders to target resources at public safety, education, and housing.  We’ll give new tax credits to businesses that hire and invest..."

Mr. President: Start in Camden.  

Kevin Riordan Inquirer Columnist
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Blinq is a news commentary blog featuring contributions from Inquirer Metro columnists Kevin Riordan and Daniel Rubin.

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