Our Recovery Starts in Our Communities

President Obama’s call for a major investment in our national infrastructure is getting a lot of attention as the November elections near.


Photo by Flickr user See Ming Lee. Used under Creative Commons.

But lost in the foolish argument about whether infrastructure investments are a smart way to give the economy a short-term boost - they are – is a more important question.

Will low-income communities and people of color reap long-term benefits from these investments?

Our recovery will begin in our communities – and there is no doubt that low-income communities and communities of color were hit first and worst by this recession. Investing in bridges, transit, broadband, water systems, parks, and other vital infrastructure will help build a strong foundation for sustainable, equitable growth.

We already know that there’s significant pent-up demand for these kinds of projects. The federal TIGER grants program, for instance, received more than $59 billion in requests for just $1.5 billion in actual transportation grants.  (Click here to see a map of TIGER projects)

Any federal infrastructure proposal – including the president’s – will only succeed if it invests in these core areas:

  • Leveraging infrastructure investments to boost economies in high-need communities
  • Increasing access to quality jobs, job training, and contracting opportunities for women, people of color, and low-income people
  • Expanding and upgrading public transportation in urban, suburban, and rural areas
  • Coordinating transportation, housing, environment, and community revitalization strategies
  • Engaging the public - especially historically disadvantaged communities – in the planning and implementation processes

The President’s proposal heralds a new day of serious, solution-minded policy ideas in Washington. Infrastructure will be the backbone of any true equitable growth strategies.

What infrastructure projects need help in your community? Tell us your ideas in the comments.

6 Responses to “Our Recovery Starts in Our Communities”

  1. avatar

    Just about every street needs to be repaved in the village that I live in in New York. Another item that needs attention is our water lines going into our homes are ages old.

    • avatar

      Water lines are one of the biggest under-examined problems facing our infrastructure. A couple years ago, a 100-year-old water main exploded around the corner from our office in Manhattan.

  2. avatar

    I FEEL THAT ALL OF THE STREETS IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD NEED SERIOUS WORK, ALSO THE SIDEWALKS COULD USE SOME HELP, AND AS A PARK BOARD MEMBER I WOULD LIKE TO SEE BETTER PARKS IN MY CITY.

  3. avatar

    We are greatly in need of commuting-oriented bike connectors and bike paths to reduce our fuel consumption and improve health. Along with Safe Routes to Schools we need Safe Ways to Work.

    Kim Norris

  4. avatar

    In my area all the stimulus money for infrastructure seems to be going into making improvements in wealthier areas and the lower income and communities of color are being left out. They want to improve transportation, access to jobs, allowing people from lower income areas to come out here to work. Spending millions renovating trains stations out on the Main Line for a few folks, but not in Philadelphia where there are more people who actually use public transportation?
    Chester County, PA

  5. avatar

    We're proposing a Community Trail in a diverse, low-mod income area of Albuquerque that could prioritize pedestrian safety and traffic calming improvements on public streets in a 4 square mile area. Federal funds will be important to implementation, but re-designing old streets in old neighborhoods is not a norm! A strong incentivized transportation bill that moves Complete Streets and Livable Neighborhoods to the forefront will help us!
    For ACHIEVE, Albuquerque, NM.

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