The neighborhood has long been an important locus for efforts to address the causes and consequences of poverty in American society. Over the course of the past century neighborhood- based initiatives have been called on to reduce class conflict, counter feelings of alienation, localize control of social institutions, create jobs and reverse neighborhood economic decline, improve human services, and address a variety of specific poverty-related problems, ranging from infant mortality to juvenile delinquency. In this essay I draw on the historical experience with neighborhood initiative to illuminate its strengths and limitations as a strategy for addressing poverty and its correlates. I also use the particular history to point up enduring dilemmas in American society's efforts to address poverty.

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