My daughter Renae and her family live in a large subdivision that was built around a golf course. Over the past three years, grocery stores, fast food establishments and gas stations have all been constructed to serve the residents of that subdivision. The term used to describe this environment is “planned community.” In other words, this community did not just evolve over time, but was a part of a master plan to provide a home and services for a specific class of people. That plan keeps certain groups of people out, and invites other specific groups in.
I drive into the blighted and crime ridden neighborhoods of Harrisburg almost daily to renovate decaying properties. It doesn’t look anything like where my daughter’s family lives, but it too is a “planned community.” Why do people reside in unsafe, deteriorating conditions? I believe that it is because there is a plan for them to live there and stay there. It’s really very simple: Offer enough public assistance to sustain them in that community, but not enough to change it. The absence of a cohesive plan to get them out of poverty infers that there is a plan to keep them there.
When I become governor, we will change this plan. It must be changed. We cannot allow this injustice to continue in Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Reading, Scranton and all other such communities in the Commonwealth. Shifting systems, traditions and cultures can be a daunting task, but it is possible. Where do we even begin when facing such a monumental challenge as this? It begins with a governor who appreciates the tireless efforts of so many who are working to assist the poor. It begins with a governor who understands that unless a comprehensive plan is put into place, the cycle of struggling families, collapsing neighborhoods, and decaying infrastructure will continue. It begins with a governor who understands the value of caring. What would happen if we Pennsylvanians began to care about the poor? Possibly something amazing…
Certainly it would be a great place to start.