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Friday news roundup: Camden renewal, suburban poverty, and elite colleges

Sep 5, 2014

Credit user photosteve101 / flickr

If you're like me, you probably don't have a lot of spare time. So in an effort to make things easier for you, here's a roundup of some articles from the week that our State of Opportunity team found interesting. Happy reading!

How one poor inner city managed to turn things around

I've been thinking about this story from the New York Times all week. It's a story about hope and renewal. Just about everybody – politicians, police, residents – had written off Camden, N.J. In the summer of 2012, there were 21 murders in Camden, the highest homicide rate in the city's history. Fast forward two years, and the homicide rate this summer was six. 

It has been 16 months since Camden took the unusual step of eliminating its police force and replacing it with a new one run by the county. Beleaguered by crime, budget cuts and bad morale, the old force had all but given up responding to some types of crimes.

The results are encouraging. Read the full article to see how Camden is fast becoming an example of how it's not impossible to turn things around.

The pros and cons of living on-campus at college

I went to the University of Michigan, and for my first two years of college I lived in South Quad, a dorm on the university's main campus. Back then, the dorm was nothing to shout about: cinder block walls, musty carpet in the halls, terrible cafeteria food. When I saw these Ann Arbor News photos of the recently renovated South Quad, my jaw dropped; it looks more like a hotel than a dorm. Forget frozen yogurt machines, these students can now order fresh hand-rolled sushi for lunch. But this kind of opulence can be a little alienating for some low-income students, according to this article from The Atlantic

In reality, dorm life, especially at selective schools, can be alienating for first-generation minority students struggling to relate to peers with private school diplomas and plenty of pocket money. 

Hat tip to my colleague Dustin Dwyer for sending that article my way.

Poverty is no longer just an inner city problem. It's everywhere.

When you think of the suburbs, you may picture cookie-cutter houses with perfectly cut green lawns. But new data shows that the suburbs are struggling. Last month, Dustin Dwyer took a look at the growing suburban poverty trend. His hometown of Grand Rapids, for example, ranks "eighth in the country for the rise in suburban poverty concentration since 2000." So we've got a suburban poverty problem, that's clear. This new Slate article tries to pinpoint how that problem came to be.