Business & Economy
9:01 am
Tue March 25, 2014

Durham Mayor: New Ideas To Shrink Poverty, One Neighborhood At A Time

Durham Mayor Bill Bell has launched a campaign to decrease poverty in the city.
Credit durham.gov

Durham Mayor Bill Bell has set in motion his campaign to reduce poverty. 

Bell said Durham has a lot of resources: good universities, a creative class, and a growing number of jobs. He believes that by using UNC Center for Urban and Regional Studies data about distressed neighborhoods, surveying residents, and planning area specific solutions, this push could make a difference.

'Poverty is an issue that I think we should be able to deal with in this community in a much more collaborative way than we're doing now.' - Mayor Bill Bell

“Poverty is an issue that I think we should be able to deal with in this community in a much more collaborative way than we're doing now,” said Bell.

“There are a lot of people that are doing a lot of things, but they're sort of like in silos, and we really aren't talking to each other. And we want to try and bring that together also as we look at this issue.”

He gathered leaders and residents last week and laid out a plan to examine poverty factors in a single Northeast Central Durham neighborhood and tackle them.

Looking closely at neighborhoods

Bell said 66 people volunteered to join task forces that will examine and work to improve issues contributing to poverty. They’ll evaluate the following by neighborhood:

  • school attendance and enrollment
  • social service and healthcare enrollment
  • job training
  • public safety
  • personal finance

'I think by reducing the effort down to neighborhoods rather than trying to deal with whole cities or whole census tracts, makes it a lot easier, one, to be focused, and two, to measure outcomes of what you're doing.' - Mayor Bill Bell

“I think by reducing the effort down to neighborhoods rather than trying to deal with whole cities or whole census tracts, makes it a lot easier, one, to be focused, and two, to measure outcomes of what you're doing,” Bell said.

Bell said they still need to survey residents in the neighborhood before the task forces can form their plans of action.  He said any program successes could potentially be expanded in other economically-distressed neighborhoods.