There are urban areas throughout the United States that once flourished but are now rundown and at-risk. A recent change in federal law has resulted in new funds being sent towards these struggling neighborhoods. This change is primarily due to the passing of the Urban Revitalization and Livable Communities Act.
With the new act, local governments can apply for federal grants that they can use to put towards community projects. In many underdeveloped areas, there is hope that the new act will help to revitalize neglected areas.
Most of the federal funds will go towards parks and recreation purposes, such as building youth centers that can help to educate at-risk youth. The implementation of the program will be led by Ben Carson, the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary. It will start by identifying opportunity zones where federal money can do the most good.
There are also tax changes included in the general push towards making urban areas safer and more appealing. Part of this will be giving capital gains tax relief to investors who choose to invest in certain areas. There are almost 9,000 different opportunity zones where the government will incentivize development.
This new government plan is received with mixed feelings. People like Pastor Donte Hickman, a preacher of an East Baltimore church, mostly welcome the changes. They hope that distressed local communities will benefit from the influx of cash and development in the area. If implemented correctly, the plan could create more recreational centers, housing, parks, and clinics for at-risk groups.
However, there are some concerns that the new laws may just be a charitable-sounding cover for a corrupt scheme. Many people connected to politicians, such as Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, have big stakes in the real estate firms that would be given incentives and federal funds for developing in urban areas. There is also the worry that a focus on shops, restaurants, and other unessential development could just raise property prices until the people meant to be helped by the bill can no longer afford to live in these areas.
Despite these valid concerns, the overall concept mostly has bipartisan support. It may not be quite as beneficial for the impoverished as one would hope, but it may still help to bring life and commerce to long-neglected urban environments.