FEATURED ARTICLE: Will Opportunity Zones Boost America's Distressed Neighborhoods?

“The onrush of technology,” says the Central Intelligence Agency, “has been a driving factor in the gradual development of a ‘two- tier’ labor market in which those at the bottom lack the education and the professional/technical skills of those at the top and, more and more, fail to get comparable pay raises, health insurance coverage, and other benefits.” GAPS IN THEWORKPLACE HAVE LED TO GAPS IN OUR NEIGHBORHOODS. “The uneven recovery is leaving too many communities behind,” reports the Economic Innovation

Group. Its research shows that “50 million Americans live in econom- ically distressed communities -- places struggling to attract capital and sustain economic opportunity for their residents. The country’s distressed ZIP codes contained 1.4 million fewer jobs in 2016 than they did in 2007.” The two-tier jobs market is reflected in how we value our homes. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that the median price for an existing home was $259,400 in March. “March’s price increase,” said NAR, “marks the 85th straight month of year-over-year gains.” That seven-year string of rising

prices has not been shared evenly. Research from ATTOM Data Solu- tions shows that in the fourth quarter at least five million US homes were “seriously” underwater, homes where loan balances were at least 25% great- er than market values. And yet, even in tough times the areas which have increasingly been left behind still have much to offer. “I have personally been raised in one of those distressed commu- nities,” said Sen. Tim Scott (R- SC), who, with Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), is one of the two leading backers of the O-zone concept on Capitol Hill, “and I will tell you that the potential in those Opportunity Zones is incredibly high.”


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