The energy building on the Southside is palpable. There is not one corner of the community that is not seeing some form of investment—from the Reeb redevelopment at the south end, to the Nationwide Children’s housing initiative at the north end, change is happening. It’s an exciting time to be a member of this community. But the Southside residents have always known there was something unique about the Southside—from its origins, it has been a community marked by diversity. In its industrial heyday Eastern Europeans, and Black and white Appalachians not only worked together—they were neighbors. And though industry has changed, the diversity of the community is as vibrant as ever.
Yet the Southside has its share of challenges. Until recently, investment on the Southside has been small in comparison to the growing need, especially in the wake of the housing crisis and recession. The Southside has high rates of infant mortality, incarceration, and unemployment. Many streets are pockmarked with vacant housing and lots. We know that neighborhoods matter for life outcomes, especially for children. Moreover, we understand that no single negative factor leads to the creation of a marginalized community. Rather, a range of factors—including high rates of incarceration, neighborhood disinvestment, housing barriers, educational and early childhood challenges, and labor market discrimination—act in combination, restricting marginalized groups from access to opportunities and severely limiting the individual and collective ability to build assets.