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100 ‘best communities’ for youths named –

Kalamazoo, Michigan, my wife’s home town, was named on the 2007 list of “best communities for youths” by America’s Promise Alliance.  This is probably largely due to the Kalamazoo Promise – some wealthy person donated money to pay for Kalamazoo public school students to go to Michigan state schools free – if you go to public school in Kalamazoo, prorated for the number of years, you get free college if you stay in-state.  It’s pretty cool, and it’s raised property values inside the city limits.

I found that article looking for this one, which I saw on the front page while I was in line for coffee at Caribou.  Just as the wife and I are pretty close to putting a bid in on a condo in a “transitional” neighborhood of D.C., I see that crime rates are threatening the revitalization of many cities.  The article doesn’t mention D.C., focusing more on smaller cities that don’t have the money and the history of D.C. – Louisville, Milwaukee, Trenton.  Still.  Maybe my VA-based realtor (Who’s made because we’re buying in the city where she’s not licensed) is right that we’re going to be beaten and mugged three or four times a day in D.C..

One of the most important parts of the article is that “perception is reality” – when you’re talking about property values, it doesn’t matter what the real crime rate is.  It matters what people think the crime rate is.  Certainly the actual crime rate matters to those who live there, but attracting new people (and new money) requires that you appear to be safe.

I’ve always wondered, though – where do they expect people to go when the value of the neighborhood shoots up around them?  Certainly some will be able to take advantage of the rise in the value of their home.  But what if you rent?  What if you don’t want to go but suddenly your property tax triples?  I’m all for revitalizing cities, and I know that many new developments set aside (maybe they have to?  Not sure) some space for low-income residents.  But I’m not sure that’s enough.

And if some of the revitalization money comes from the government, I think we have a responsibility to make sure that what we’re doing is enough.

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