12/29/2004

Beyond Hope?

In a piece entitled "Camden's Streets Go From Mean to Meanest", the New York Times presents four pages of evidence to suggest that Camden, New Jersey may be beyond saving.

In the past 12 months, there have been 53 homicides, including a 12-year-old shot to death on his porch for his radio, more than 800 aggravated assaults, including a toddler shot in the back of the head, at least 750 robberies and 150 acts of arson, more than 10,000 arrests and one glaring nonarrest - a serial rapist on the loose downtown.

All in a city of 79,000, nine square miles small.
The state has started a $175 million bailout plan, and there's even a real estate developer starting a $1.3 billion project including McMansions and a golf course. None of those things is going to address the real problems, summed up quite nicely in this paragraph:
20 percent of the city is unemployed; per-capita income is $9,815; half of the residents did not finish high school; one out of 20 graduated from college; 46 percent of children live in poverty.
Fancy homes and country clubs don't erase slums, but it's better than nothing. Camden has been a disaster for as long as I can remember. Twelve years ago, Time Magazine ran a similar piece on Camden which included the galling statistic that fully one-half of the city's population was udner the age of 21. In 2014, which national publication will complete the hat trick and document three decades of urban despair?