Jennifer Vey on economic inequality and poverty in Baltimore

Amid anger and protests in Baltimore following the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray from a spinal injury sustained after being arrested by police, much of the discussion has focused on the poverty-ridden neighborhood in which Gray grew up (Sandtown-Winchester, on the city’s west side). Conversation has centered around the economic disadvantages that Gray, his peers, and so many young adults are facing in certain neighborhoods throughout Baltimore and in other U.S. metro areas.

Metropolitan Policy Program Fellow Jennifer Vey spoke yesterday with CNN’s Maggie Lake on the poverty and economic inequality prevalent in Baltimore—particularly in impoverished neighborhoods like that of Gray’s and throughout the country.

In the interview, Vey says that, “it’s important to look at the events of the last few days in Baltimore against a backdrop of poverty, of entrenched joblessness, of social disconnectedness that’s prevalent in many Baltimore neighborhoods…but that isn’t unique to Baltimore, and I think that’s a really important point here, that we really need to put these issues in a much broader national context.

“I think what this really indicates is we’ve been operating under an economic model for quite some time that clearly isn’t working for large numbers of people in this country.”

Vey also discusses how we can work to break the cycle:

“What we’re really focused on at Brookings is trying to understand how cities and metropolitan areas can really be trying to grow the types of advanced industries that create good jobs, that create more jobs, and also focusing on how then, people can connect back to that economy. What can we do to make sure that more people are participating in that economic growth as it happens?”

She goes on to say that investment in education, workforce programs, and infrastructure are all key in incorporating everyone into a prosperous economy.

To learn more about poverty in Baltimore, read this piece by Karl Alexander.