The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has for 15 years studied the lives and health of people who have moved from poor neighborhoods to better off neighborhoods. The results are dramatic! Would anybody be surprised that people living in slums or near slums would, because they are living in those conditions, have low income, inadequate variety in purchasing of food, poor health connected from breathing polluted air? Needless to say, the social characteristics of the people around you impact the way we think and act. Dr. Harlan Krumholz, a cardiologist at the Yale School of Medicine, but not involved in the government study, chimed in, “Your health is influenced by all those around you and the environment…some environments are toxic to health.”
While this information could be deduced from horse sense, it is good to have scientific analysis at our fingertips as our society tries to deal with the problems connected with low-income neighborhoods. One of the great causes of hope of the last half century has been the development of strong neighborhood organizations. Saul Alinsky, a frequently defamed organizer and a real hero for those seeking safer and healthier neighborhoods, started the process in Chicago in the 1940’s. The movement has since spread across the United States and has been a special force for good in Texas with successful organizations in San Antonio, Houston, El Paso, the Rio Grande Valley and other areas. These efforts do not come cheaply but they produce wonderful results, including improved health, as mentioned above, traffic improvement, personal safety and so forth and so forth.
Everything is connected to everything.