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Another 911: The Economic Plight of Urban Neighborhoods

Another 911: The Economic Plight of Urban Neighborhoods

                               Is Anybody Out There Listening 

 

 By Hosea Baxter, Crossroads Bible College Professor

 

There is a host of sirens going off across the city.  But like any sound that warns of doom, once it is ignored, people return to their normal duties.  It’s easy to become disinterested when you can retort, “That’s not my side of town.” We may or may not know what is going on, but for some of us, if we are not directly affected; our concerns are minimal if existent.

Turning a deaf ear is not always a sing of not caring. It might be nurtured by ignorance.  And obliviousness and distance from a problem can be a deadly combination.  It may allow us to become comfortable with the plight of others, good or bad.  But the sirens I want to awaken us to today are economic.The financial plight of many of our urban neighborhoods needs everyone’s attention.  Why?

The Economic Problems in Urban Communities

Breathing new life into low income economic communities is a complex issue.  Talk to any city leader and few would say, they are not interested.  However, when tasked with the work of making it a reality, you enter a new world.  There are numerous factors that come into play that need to be addressed. Some of these issues will take years to successfully navigate. We will need jobs with fair wages, people in the neighborhood with the skills to accomplish the task, economic incentives for businesses, a resurrection of the spirit of entrepreneurship, safe neighborhoods, and community involvement just to name a few.  Add to these challenges the many failed attempts by federal and local governments and one can see, when the word goes out concerning fiscal development in low-income communities, deaf ears are a natural response.

Long-term sustainability is another concern.  We want the train of commercial progress to continue down the tracks of success for generations.   There has been much talked about living wages as it relates to employment.  Some estimates in the United States put this number around $15.85, as of 2016.  Depending on the types of jobs created, this may not be a realistic wage for a small entrepreneurial venture. Notwithstanding, low-income jobs will need to attempt to pay wages that enable families to buy food, pay a mortgage, raise kids, and save for retirement. However, these types of jobs will require higher levels of education, and it’s questionable whether our public schools are up to these demands.

Along with enhancing the educational and skill levels of adults, the education that young people receive in our public schools must improve.  The authors of Urban Issues: Selections from CQ Research tell us that the United States has fallen behind in K-12 education.  Along with the rising cost of public education, the future is bleak.  What makes this report more distressing is that low preforming students live in the communities that need these higher paying jobs.  With national graduation rates around 68.8% and those for minorities being lower when subtracted out, we have reasons to pine.

Success demands we push beyond these present realities towards a brighter future.  It is a vital part of the coming economic growth among urban folks.  Young people believing there is financial life for the next generation despite current failures is necessary.   Believing they live in communities with a future creates future stability within the area.   Curtailing black flight to suburbia as evidence of success will add stability to urban districts.

How do We Get Started?                              

The economic problems of our inner-cities seem so daunting.  It’s likely one of the reasons there is more talk than action in this area.  However, the church specializes in the difficult.  Through Christ, God has provided salvific uplift, could economic revival be more laborious.  Absolutely not, there are churches across Indianapolis engaging in these conversations.  If we want to see lasting change in our communities, who is better suited via location and spirituality to lead this charge.

Coming alongside OverComing Church and other ministries, Crossroads Bible College is excited to add it voice and act in uplifting the inner-city.  This year, Crossroads Bible College will be hosting a workshop related to urban economic development.  We will be encouraging pastors and church members to come and listen to how we can take realistic steps together in ushering in this change.  It’s a powerful vision with a bright future in the city.  Under the leadership of our Lord and walking with the church, we can be the change we need.

It’s a magnificent sight.  The people of God marching in the same direction, while proclaiming the goodness and greatness of God as we participate in holistic ministry, will be a welcomed sight for the economically distressed.  What a benefit to the down and out and the up and coming, as we reinforce economic and spiritual hope in our cities.

So, keep your ears to the wind and be ready to act for the benefit of others.  This time when you hear the sirens call, note that it is for you.  It’s time for you to be involved in the elevation of others.  You may be able to assist others writing a business plan, aid in assist in doing a business feasibility study, or any number of business skills you have developed over the years.  You might want to become a business mentor or offer up an idea for a commercial venture.  Many of these businesses will need investment capital, perhaps you can assist in this area.

After all, we are our brothers and sister’s keepers, spiritually and otherwise.

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