Despite improvements in the overall economy, America’s lower-income communities continue to face hard times, said Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve.
As a result, aiding low-income neighborhoods requires a "multipronged approach" focusing on various aspects, including housing and employment.
"While employment and housing show signs of improving for the nation as a whole, conditions in lower-income neighborhoods remain difficult by many measures," the chairman said.
He added, "Resilient communities require more than decent housing, important as that is; they require an array of amenities that support the social fabric of the community and build the capabilities of community residents. The movement toward a holistic approach to community development has been long in the making, but the housing crisis has motivated further progress."
Bernanke also stressed the vital role played by local leaders in revitalizing lower income communities, citing research by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston of towns that have managed to turn positive.
"Substantial coordination and dedication are needed to break through silos to simultaneously improve housing, connect residents to jobs, and help ensure access to adequate nutrition, health care, education, and day care," he said.
The 2008 collapse of the housing market and resulting deep recession has deepened the dilemma of many lower-income communities.
Thus, solutions will have to be tailored to whether a low-income neighborhood is urban, suburban or rural.
"Community development leaders have no shortage of commitment to their goals, but with the insights you provide, together with the opportunities to learn from the experiences of other communities, they will be better prepared and thus more successful in meeting the very difficult challenges they face," Bernanke concluded.