In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson launched a War on Poverty in America, and a half century later, President Obama is using the anniversary to establish poverty-fighting “Promise Zones” in a handful of cities across the across the country.
The first five cities chosen for the new initiative are San Antonio, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Southeastern Kentucky and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. LA’s zone, which includes the Koreatown, Hollywood, Westlake and Pico-Union area, is set to receive tens of millions of federal improvement dollars, up to $500 million in the next decade.
The concept of “place-based subsidy,” which the “Promise Zone” program embodies, isn’t new, and economists have long debated the approach’s efficacy in eradicating poverty in any given idea. And Los Angeles already has its work cut out for it. According to a new report from the L.A. 2020 Commission, the city is economic as well as a leadership crisis, having failed to tackle both economic and standard-of-living issues.
What does money from this new program mean for some of the most poverty-stricken urban areas in the nation? How are legislators planning to use the money if the total amount has yet to be decided, and how will the inevitable brawl over where to spend the federal money play out?
Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles Mayor
Matthew Kahn, Professor at the UCLA Institute of the Environment, the Department of Economics, and the Department of Public Policy. He was trained as an economist at the University of Chicago
Enrico Moretti, Professor of Economics at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of “The New Geography of Jobs” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012)
Austin Beutner, Co-Chair, Los Angeles 2020 Commission; Former First Deputy Mayor of Los Angeles