Revitalize: How contemporary planners view their role in addressing neighborhood distress
Daugherty, Jack Neil, III
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Since the early days of the profession, planners have believed that neighborhoods are a unit at which planning can help to build better, more livable communities for people. Planners have always seen themselves as urban problem solvers whose responsibility it is to improve the quality of life of people in order to help them to reach their full human potential. Planners have acknowledged that many urban problems manifest themselves in distinct ways from one neighborhood to the next, and that some neighborhoods experience such a severe combination of problems and challenges that it presents major hazards to the quality of life of residents, creating a condition of neighborhood distress. This paper seeks to provide an examination about how current planning literature understands neighborhood distress in American cities, what planners see as ideal neighborhoods, and the approaches and roles that planners can take in order to address neighborhood distress and build better communities for all. The paper uses a qualitative approach to content analysis in order to examine literature from both Planning Magazine and the Journal of the American Planning Association over the past two decades in order to answer these questions. Literature suggests that contemporary planners believe a combination of strong community partnerships, creative financial planning, a comprehensive vision that tackles a multitude of issues, and an empowering and democratic planning process are key elements of many successful contemporary neighborhood revitalization strategies.