U.S. Conference of Mayors 'State of the Cities' Study Released

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Sat, 20 Jun 1998 00:30:57 -0700 (PDT)

``We have more millionaires than at any time in our history,'' Cuomo said.
``But an estimated 600,000 Americans still sleep on our streets every
night.'' -- HUD secretary Cuomo  (see below)

FWD  Yahoo! News  - AP Headlines - June 19, 1998


     Paul Shepard - Associated Press Writer

RENO, Nev. (AP) - President Clinton told the nation's mayors Friday that
U.S. cities are rejuvenated, but warned that inequities in schools, housing
and employment cited in a new federal report threaten their long-term

``Our cities are revitalized, energized and back in business,'' Clinton
said in an address transmitted by satellite from the White House to more
than 300 city leaders attending the annual U.S. Conference of Mayors. ``We
cannot sit back and bask in the glow.''

Clinton thanked the group for its help in pushing recent transportation
legislation and asked for its help to secure congressional approval to
raise federal housing loan limits.

``I know the best is yet to come for America's cities,'' Clinton said.

Earlier in the day, HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo gave the nation's cities a
good bill of health but said an ``opportunity gap'' that is holding down
the nation's poorest citizens poses a constant threat.

``This is a midterm report card with an 'A' grade but there is still
homework to be done,'' Cuomo said of a new federal report Friday that
offers both a soothing and sobering picture of the urban landscape.

The second annual ``State of the Cities'' report was released at the U.S.
Conference of Mayors national convention.

Cuomo, U.S. secretary of housing and urban development, credited the
nation's strong five-year economic performance for the reduction in
unemployment that nearly every major American city enjoys. But a disconnect
between the number of low-skill jobs that are available and the number of
people seeking them causes worry, Cuomo said.

In addition, Cuomo said at a time when wealth is being created for many,
others remain trapped in a cycle of poverty, poor educational opportunities
and homelessness.

``We have more millionaires than at any time in our history,'' Cuomo said.
``But an estimated 600,000 Americans still sleep on our streets every

Good news for cities abounds in the 75-page report:

-The economy has produced 16 million new jobs and record low unemployment.
And the number of employed people living in central cities increased by
almost 3.7 million people in the past five years.

-Unemployment in central cities fell to an average of 5.3 percent early
this year from 8.2 percent in 1993.

-Downtowns that just 20 years ago more closely resembled ghost towns in
Cleveland, Baltimore, St. Louis and Washington have become tourist meccas
thanks to sports arenas and arts centers.

-Crime, the age-old bane of city dwelling, has been tamed to a degree.
Violent crime fell 19 percent in big cities between 1993 and 1997.

But despite the impressive gains, poor city residents are being left behind
by growing numbers of middle-class residents. The report says that since
1970, nearly 6 million middle-income and affluent families have left
central cities.

Poor schools are one of the most frequently cited reasons for the
middle-class flight, according to the study. In 1994 and 1996, 60 percent
of children in urban school districts failed to achieve basic competency on
standardized reading and math tests. And in the nation's 20 largest urban
school districts, more than half of the students never graduate.

``For millions of urban youth, finishing high school and attending college
seem an impossible dream - this in an era demanding high skills for high
wages'' the report says. ``If we are not now ready to take on these
challenges when the budget is in surplus, unemployment is at record lows
and the stock market is at record highs, when will we be ready?''



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