Urban Institute’s Tom Kingsley: Moving the Equity Agenda Forward

This post is part of a series presenting equity leaders’ reactions to “America’s Tomorrow: Equity is the Superior Growth Model” — a new paper that challenges the nation to invest in our collective future. This post is written by Tom Kingsley, Senior Fellow at the Urban Institute’s Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center. Click here to read other reflections.

PolicyLink’s framing paper is clear and it is compelling.  Equity is indeed the Superior Growth Model.  Priority now needs to shift to finding concrete ways to move the agenda forward.

I think one effective way to do that would be to support the preparation of annual Equitable Development Strategy reports for metropolitan regions.  These would present data for neighborhoods, municipalities and counties, region-wide.  The spotlight would be on indicators that would tell local stakeholders about progress (or the lack thereof) on interrelated equity and development goals.  But analysis would also be designed to identify neighborhoods and topics where new interventions might have particularly high payoff.  At the neighborhood level, this implies the use “early warning” indicators that would identify key problems and opportunities that are actionable.

Given dramatic improvements in data access there is no reason why reports like these could not be prepared in all of our major metropolitan areas from now on.  Their preparation and review should be highly visible public processes, structured to mobilize leadership from all segments of the community.  Every effort should be made to engage the local media as active participants as well (the kind of participation around similar reports that won a Pulitzer Prize for the Dallas Morning News a couple of years ago).

I am convinced that processes like these could create a new rhythm of accountability and give serious substance to the framing paper’s call for a “movement.”

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