Message from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke
I am pleased to present this report on concentrated poverty, which has been developed by the Community Affairs staff of the Federal Reserve System in collaboration with the Brookings Institution. The project combines data analysis with qualitative evaluations to provide texture to the understanding of economic and social dynamics in these communities. This in-depth exploration considers the interrelationships between public services and private investments, and provides important insights that will inform the work of the Federal Reserve in promoting economic growth. It also contributes to our understanding of the interplay between the broader economic context for private investments and public policy interventions in distressed communities.
This report was developed by staff from the Federal Reserve’s Community Affairs function. Community Affairs brings together the System’s strengths in research and data analysis, outreach, and convening with a regional presence in the 12 Federal Reserve Bank Districts. Since 1984, Community Affairs staffs at the Board of Governors and in the Reserve Banks have endeavored to identify barriers to capital and credit access, in order to better understand the challenges and identify pathways to potential solutions. This project provided an opportunity to expand that work. Several of the Reserve Banks that undertook these studies have continued efforts in these locations, working with partners to share their understanding to inform local policy, philanthropic investments, and community reinvestment programs.
This report is a collaborative effort by the 12 Banks and the Board of Governors. It builds upon outreach and relationships previously established through the Community Affairs programs in each of the 16 case study locations, leveraging the System’s regional presence to develop a comparative analysis. This work makes an important contribution to the literature on understanding the dynamics of poor people living in poor communities, and what pathways exist to bring both into the economic mainstream. I am pleased that we were able to partner with the Brookings Institution, combining our staffs’ knowledge of local communities with Brookings’ previous work on this topic. I believe this project will stimulate future efforts to better understand these communities and link them to our national economy.