One issue that I’ve always taken throughout this entire ordeal with the economy that so much has been stressed on the plight of the middle class, but not enough about those with much lower earnings. Yes, the extension of unemployment benefits and other services like food stamps have been helpful, but that additional money comes on the heels of middle class workers needing the aid, not necessarily out of concern for poor people.
Moreover, for many – particularly among blacks in this country – the recession started long before December 2007.
So when the stimulus bill was passed many had hoped that the areas hit hardest by the recession would be aided most. In fact, the Associated Press noted earlier this year that the plan was "set to spend 50% more per person in areas with the lowest unemployment than it will in communities with the highest."
But in a new Times article, “Are Minorities Getting Enough out of The Stimulus?,” Tim Padgett uses the story of how the needs of Miami’s poorest residents have been neglected despite the state of Florida receiving $15 billion in stimulus aid.
Miami's poorer residents have long complained that the city's meager public-transit system makes it harder for them to get to work. So when the Obama Administration announced the $787 billion stimulus plan earlier this year, many hoped some of that money would help fund plans like an expansion of Miami's undersized Metrorail system — especially a 10-mile northern extension that would reach into predominantly African-American and other minority communities largely cut off from downtown and other employment centers. But the project, in part because it's not considered as shovel-ready as jobs like existing highway maintenance, isn't getting any of the $15 billion in stimulus aid for Florida, and has been shelved for the time being.
And it’s not just Miami. Padgett also noted that a Chicago Public Radio investigation this fall found that less than 10% of the Department of Transportation's stimulus contracts had gone to "disadvantaged business enterprises.”
In Florida, and most likely other states, the bulk of new construction work has gone to venues like airports and new highways that benefit the more affluent suburbs.
Have you noticed the same thing in your home state?
Has this become another instance of government blowing the opportunity to help minorities?
I’d love to hear from you. Leave your feedback below and send your own recession stories to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michael Arceneaux hails from Houston, lives in Harlem and praises Beyoncé’s name wherever he goes. Follow him on Twitter.