Grading Obama's Urban Policy Legacy

With James DeFilippis: Now, as he leaves the White House, Obama’s legacy is being evaluated on many fronts, including within the realm of urban policy.

Urban Policy in the Time of Obama (James DeFilippis, editor)So, did President Obama meet the high expectations he was beset with when he took office? What grade would you give him for his urban policy?  

I'm loath to reduce his work to just a grade. But if I had to, I would probably say a B-. There were a lot of interesting ideas, but there was very little follow-through. Most of what we got were a set of fairly small pilot-y kinds of projects: lots of planning grants, but very little implementation money.

You also really see it in the response to Baltimore. After what had happened in Ferguson, after everything that's been going on with Black Lives Matter, the response from the Feds was a collective shrug.

I recognize the constraints he was working with. The Republican Party clearly understands its constituency is not urban and couldn't care less about black and brown constituents in cities. Even so, where was the expenditure of political capital to force the issue from the administration? To push for a whole set of policies that would make things more equitable now? To build the organizational infrastructure for a more progressive, urban regime going forward? We didn't see it.

Read the full interview.

Published in: CityLab
By: Tanvi Misra