DES MOINES (AP) — An effort is under way to help the 26,000 residents of 10 “urban core” neighborhoods north of downtown Des Moines get what they need to improve the area.
The effort is being led by Tom Urban, a former Des Moines mayor and former chairman of Pioneer Hi-Bred International.
“We cannot have a viable, successful region with a sick heart,” he said.
Urban said he would like to see community development coordinators hired for each of the targeted neighborhoods. Those coordinators would help residents find the right services.
Urban said the city's urban core has become poorer and more diverse over the past five decades, and the groups trying to help residents don't always work effectively together.
Residents in the area have a median income of $28,000, which is about half the median income for all of Des Moines. About one-quarter of the area's residents dropped out of school and about 20 percent meet the federal definition of poverty.
Urban's ideas are being reviewed by the United Way of Central Iowa to make sure they wouldn't duplicate existing efforts. It's unclear how much the plan would cost. That report is expected later this spring.
Carmen Lampe Zeitler, executive director of Children and Family Urban Ministries, said Urban's plan seems solid.
“There is a lot of complexity about why the urban core is in the state it is in,” Lampe Zeitler said. “People are working low-wage jobs. Housing is coming back, but a lot of it is inadequate. There are services available, and people aren't always aware of that.”
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