Thursday 4 December 2008

Urban Policy - a Time for CHANGE?

At the risk of becoming a prolific blogger, I want to add some new thoughts on the extent to which the arrival of Barack Obama as President of the United States will have an impact on my main field of study - urban policy. This is interesting to me for a number of reasons:

1. Obama's recent background is in Chicago; a city where housing and urban policy are high on the agenda and where it has been very controversial;
2. Policy-transfer from the US to the UK is increasingly common, but not unproblematic, so any new developments there will surely impact here;
3. He promised to create a White House Office of Urban Policy;
4. He talks of 'targeting' federal dollars to urban areas and effective spending on 'high-impact' programs, but isn't this ignoring the real causes which are not in the areas that need targeting?
5. It raises the prospect of more people taking note of the work we do (e.g.)!

For the time being, however, it's just a case of wait and see and keep working on things. Right now, I'm writing a new paper which explores the extent to which spatial targeting of deprived areas for things like employment is actually a fundamentally flawed approach when there is no guarantee that jobs created in, or nearby, the poorest neighbourhoods will be of benefit to residents there.