America is experiencing a blighted neighborhood problem across the country, and communities poor and lower-middle class are most affected.
Throughout history, we have seen examples of the haves and the have-nots within communities. We have seen areas that were once popular and booming now being destroyed due to lack of investments and other factors.
As a young boy, I visited my grandfather in Moffett, Oklahoma, and I loved the small-town feel when I was there. The families knew one another, the residents waved at you when you drove by, and it was just a good place. This town was not a wealthy town at all. Some of the people there would be considered poor, but they had a sense of pride in their area.
As America tries to dig itself out of financial difficulties, cities could refocus on the small-town feel when deciding how to address the blighted neighborhoods. A focus on entrepreneurship, partnerships, and development in these areas could be the key to a resurgence of the communities. These areas need affordable and safe housing, small grocery stores, community partners for job training, local retail, entertainment centers for children and adults, water parks, walkable spaces, eating establishments, and more investment in education. The small-town feel of a neighborhood can be saved if you save the people in the neighborhood.
The children are valuable resources that require our attention and sacrifice to ensure they are the best they can be. The trauma of generational poverty could hinder a community for years to come. A program that allows for development of existing homes in the blighted area to be fixed and available for sale or rent to residents of the city is one step in a lengthy journey to a better life for so many Americans. Jobs with wages and advancement opportunity are paramount in a recovery of a forgotten side of town. Cities that have higher poverty levels could show an action that is valuable by placing resources in the community to help. The city government should create semi-permanent office space to show it is willing to invest and be a member of the blighted community.
The communities I have visited where businesses and houses are boarded up show a devastating reality that some Americans live with on a daily basis. These Americans deserve better; they want something better, and it is our generation's opportunity to do better. The more we invest in small, disenfranchised areas, the better our communities can become. We are only as good as our most impoverished community in our towns.
Corey Carolina is an NSU graduate, North Tulsa entrepreneur and activist, and owner of Carolina Food Co. He is also an author, his first book being "The Absent Father."