What Works Cities in Upstate NY

What Works Cities is an initiative of the Bloomberg Philanthropies focused on bringing open data and data-driven decision making to 100 mid-sized cities across the country.

Earlier this year, Buffalo joined the growing ranks of cities in the What Works Cities program. And just this week, Syracuse also became a What Works Cities program member. Coming on the heels of a successful civic data challenge in Central New York that partnered with the successful Hack Upstate biannual hackathon and AT&T, this bodes well for Upstate.

As more and more cities like Syracuse and Buffalo embrace open data and build partnerships with outside data users, they’ll learn to use data more effectively and foster the growth of innovative new solutions.

It will be interesting to watch as this new program ramps up in these two Upstate cities and new open data sets get released to the public.

And it would be terrific to see another Upstate city join the ranks of What Works Cities.

How Decentralized Zoning is Killing Upstate Cities

Last August, a study from the Century Foundation identified cities in Upstate New York as places with some of the highest concentrations of poverty for African American and Hispanic populations anywhere in the nation. The problem is particularly acute in the City of Syracuse which holds the  distinction of having the highest level of poverty concentration among African American and Hispanic populations of the one hundred largest metropolitan areas in the U.S.

This problem isn’t Syracuse’s alone – the study shows that Rochester and Buffalo also have serious problems with concentrated poverty. But the Salt City is an unfortunate standout in this report. In addition to have the highest concentrations of poverty among African Americans and Hispanics, when looking at concentrated poverty among non-Hispanic whites “…Detroit, Fresno, and Syracuse are the only metropolitan areas on all three lists.”

The Century Foundation’s findings echo those of an earlier study with a similar scope conducted by CNY Fair Housing, Inc. which found that the Syracuse area is “one of the worst scoring cities in the country when looking at equality of opportunity based on race and ethnicity.” Given what we know about how concentrated poverty affects the life outcomes for people who live in it, it’s hard to imagine a more serious drag on the growth and well being of our region than deliberately forcing people to live in places where they are surrounded by poverty and given them few options of getting out.

But that’s exactly what we do.

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