Despite its proud history, the City of Rochester has suffered from the effects of chronic poverty for generations. Some of the issues that feed the cycle of poverty are:
Over the years, homeowners and businesses have abandoned too many once-thriving neighborhoods.
Poverty is firmly linked to incidents of illegal activity that impact both personal safety and community spirit.
Neglected properties and absentee landlords create an environment of unsafe living conditions and neighborhood decay.
It is well known that children who start behind academically stay behind in life. Difficult socioeconomic conditions are proven to affect a child's ability to succeed in school.
Lack of Hope
When families live in poverty generation after generation, it becomes difficult to imagine a different way of life is possible.
Lack of access to healthy food contributes to childhood and adult medical issues that are compounded by a lack of access to quality healthcare.
When Helping Hurts
Rochester has more nonprofits, per capita, than any city of its size. It has been said that we are "resource rich and results poor." In spite of our great culture of service, many charitable organizations have failed to realize that relief and betterment programs alone have never proven to strengthen families in the long term. This is what author and urban activist Bob Lupton describes as "Toxic Charity."
Personal responsibility is essential for emotional, social, and spiritual well-being. To do for others what they have the capacity to do for themselves is to disempower them. Getting to know community leaders first requires us to listen and respect indigenous leadership and learn the dreams of the people. And be willing to have our own ideas transformed. Connected Communities efforts seeks to be community-driven rather than volunteer-driven, community-led rather than volunteer-led.
Enabling the residents of a neighborhood to create their own solutions is obviously a much slower process than fixing problems for them. It can feel painfully slow for high-capacity supporters who would prefer a quick solution. We recognize that this is not the answer and we are committed to supporting neighbors as they lead their own neighborhood change.
The Threat of Gentrification
The EMMA and Beechwood neighborhoods are comprised of savvy residents who are committed to counteracting gentrification as best they can. By working together, and ensuring the availability of affordable housing options, access to viable transportation, job creation, and entrepreneurial opportunities, we can help ensure that the increased investment in the Beechwood and EMMA neighborhoods provides a lift to the community without displacing families in poverty. With the neighborhood leading these efforts, a brighter future can await existing and future residents.