Urban Wire MetroTrends Wrap-up: The latest from 2013
Zachary J. McDade
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In 2013, we’ve seen nationwide debate, policy, and discussion on an incredible array of topics: health care reform, crime and gun violence, immigration reform, budget deficits and federal spending, gay marriage, unemployment and recovery, and poverty and inequality. Through all of it, the Urban Institute’s experts offered their unique insights and objective, data-driven analysis of these issues here on MetroTrends.

Gun Violence and its Effects on Our Communities 

The victims and families of Sandy Hook and Newtown have been on everyone’s minds, including ours. John Roman offered insights from his personal experiences discussing violence in schools, followed by an analysis of myths surrounding the controversial 1994 Assault Weapons Ban. He distilled his thoughts into an infographic and weighed in on what it would actually take to create a violence-reducing ban.

Dating, Violence, and Crime Policy 

Emotions have run high on other crime and justice issues too. Nancy La Vigne commented on Stop and Frisk and how this controversial policy affects communities. Meanwhile we published an in-depth study of teen dating abuse through technology and its effects on millions of young people, along with proposals for improving the Violence Against Women act. In some vulnerable communities, all of these issues can come into play simultaneously, putting many people, especially teens, at great risk. So how do we combat persistent, widespread violence and other social issues? Perhaps every city should open an Office of Urban Innovation, leveraging private funds where cash-strapped governments can’t afford to act.

Lessons from Chicago’s Public Housing

American’s low-income communities continue to struggle, but the news isn’t all bad. Sue Popkin shared stories from 25 years of her work in Chicago Public Housing. Ten years after a whole-scale transformation of those troubled high-rises, many low-income families are better off. To be sure, however, there is still much to be done as we reform troubled public housing in Chicago—and nationwide.

America’s Low-Income Communities

As Tax Day approaches it’s worth remembering how many low-income families rely on non-traditional borrowing and lending sources with interest rates exceeding 500 percent. In some of these same communities reside the 6.2 million children who have at least one unemployed parent, a vulnerable population that is not sufficiently covered by our social safety net.

A Lost Generation?

New research shows that the Millennial generation is falling behind their parents in terms of wealth accumulation. There are a host of causes: a big one is massive declines in home prices; another is stagnant wage growth. Our experts debate whether raising the minimum wage is the right next step or whether it would cause more problems than it cures.



What’s Next?

There is more to come from MetroTrends. In the coming weeks we’ll write about low-income working families, the real story behind the monthly employment numbers, the Global Millennium Development Goals, and more. Stay tuned.