Urban Poverty and the City

Tipping the Scales in Housing Court

April 26, 2013

Millions of Americans face eviction every year. But legal aid to the poor, steadily starved since the Reagan years, has been decimated during the recession. The result? In many housing courts around the country, 90 percent of landlords are represented by attorneys and 90 percent of tenants are not. This imbalance of power is as unfair as the solution is clear. See Tipping the Scales in Housing Court by op-ed contributor, Matthew Desmond (New York Times, November 29, 2012...

Read more about Tipping the Scales in Housing Court
Work Disappears: The World of the New Urban Poor.
Wilson, William Julius. 1996. Work Disappears: The World of the New Urban Poor. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.Abstract

Wilson, one of our foremost authorities on race and poverty, challenges decades of liberal and conservative pieties to look squarely at the devastating effects that joblessness has had on our urban ghettos. Marshaling a vast array of data and the personal stories of hundreds of men and women, Wilson persuasively argues that problems endemic to America's inner cities--from fatherless households to drugs and violent crime--stem directly from the disappearance of blue-collar jobs in the wake of a globalized economy. Wilson's achievement is to portray this crisis as one that affects all Americans, and to propose solutions whose benefits would be felt across our society. At a time when welfare is ending and our country's racial dialectic is more strained than ever, When Work Disappears is a sane, courageous, and desperately important work.


Paxson, Christina, Elizabeth Fussell, Jean Rhodes, and Mary C Waters. 2012. “Five Years Later: Recovery from Post Traumatic Stress and Psychological Distress Among Low-Income Mothers Affected by Hurricane Katrina.”. Social Science and Medicine 74 (2):150-157.Abstract

Hurricane Katrina, which struck the Gulf Coast of the United States in August 2005, exposed area residents to trauma and extensive property loss. However, little is known about the long-run effects of the hurricane on the mental health of those who were exposed. This study documents long-run changes in mental health among a particularly vulnerable group-low income mothers-from before to after the hurricane, and identifies factors that are associated with different recovery trajectories. Longitudinal surveys of 532 low-income mothers from New Orleans were conducted approximately one year before, 7-19 months after, and 43-54 months after Hurricane Katrina. The surveys collected information on mental health, social support, earnings and hurricane experiences. We document changes in post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTSS), as measured by the Impact of Event Scale-Revised, and symptoms of psychological distress (PD), as measured by the K6 scale. We find that although PTSS has declined over time after the hurricane, it remained high 43-54 months later. PD also declined, but did not return to pre-hurricane levels. At both time periods, psychological distress before the hurricane, hurricane-related home damage, and exposure to traumatic events were associated with PTSS that co-occurred with PD. Hurricane-related home damage and traumatic events were associated with PTSS without PD. Home damage was an especially important predictor of chronic PTSS, with and without PD. Most hurricane stressors did not have strong associations with PD alone over the short or long run. Over the long run, higher earnings were protective against PD, and greater social support was protective against PTSS. These results indicate that mental health problems, particularly PTSS alone or in co-occurrence with PD, among Hurricane Katrina survivors remain a concern, especially for those who experienced hurricane-related trauma and had poor mental health or low socioeconomic status before the hurricane.

The Truly Disadvantaged: The Inner City, the Underclass, and Public Policy.
Wilson, William Julius. 1987. The Truly Disadvantaged: The Inner City, the Underclass, and Public Policy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 2nd edition, 2012.Abstract

"The Truly Disadvantaged should spur critical thinking in many quarters about the causes and possible remedies for inner city poverty. As policy makers grapple with the problems of an enlarged underclass they—as well as community leaders and all concerned Americans of all races—would be advised to examine Mr. Wilson's incisive analysis."—Robert Greenstein, New York Times Book Review

Why Don't Boston's Great Professors Study Boston?

Why Don't Boston's Great Professors Study Boston?

October 9, 2011

Robert J. Sampson and Christopher Winship lead an effort to close the gap between researchers and the city where they live. On October 21, 2011 with funding from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard and an endorsement from City Hall, they joined forces with a group of like-minded colleagues in a public campaign to close the gap they see between Boston and the legions of researchers who call it home, hosting an all-day meeting at Radcliffe entitled “...

Read more about Why Don't Boston's Great Professors Study Boston?