Regional and Community Outreach Welcomes Visiting Scholar Alicia Sasser-Modestino

alicia tea
Professor Sasser-Modestino giving an informal talk on her project.

This last week the Regional and Community Outreach department welcomed our newest visiting scholar, Alicia Sasser Modestino. Associate Professor, School of Public Policy & Urban Affairs, Northeastern University and Senior Research Fellow, Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy, also at Northeastern.

While visiting the Fed, Professor Sasser will be analyzing the Boston youth summer employment program (SYEP).  The SYEP has operated for over 15 years and annually serves over 10,000 Boston youth.  However, no rigorous evaluation has been conducted – until now.  Alicia has collected survey data from participants and non-participants and will be pairing this with administrative data related to the employment and wage, academic, and court-related outcomes.    From these, she will write a series of policy and research papers and present her findings to the large community of practitioners and scholars interested in the social and economic outcomes of youth employment programs.

Something stinks in community development

Two cases have recently made headlines and both strike upon a similar theme: trash pick-up and inequality. Journalists have seized upon the case of a sanitation worker who is now serving jail time for before-hours waste removal in the suburban Atlanta, Georgia community of Sandy Springs. Local police arrested Kevin McGill, 48, an employee Waste Management Inc, after a resident placed a 5 am 911 call, citing violation of a city ordinance prohibiting garbage pick-up prior to 7 am. The city attorney deemed offense worthy of automatic jail time.  McGill has agreed to serve his sentence by spending the next 14 weekends in jail so that he is still able to work and support his wife and two children.  And if you assumed that McGill is an African American and Sandy Springs is a majority white suburb with home values three times the state average, you were correct.

In a community on the other side of the country and socio-economic spectrum, public housing residents recently won a lawsuit against the Los Angeles Housing Authority. A federal district judge found that the housing authority illegally charged residents for trash collection by charging them for trash pickup in addition to their rent. Under the law, trash collection should be included in rent calculations. Instead, on average, tenants paid $24 for trash collection each month. Attorneys for the residents anticipate the average reimbursement to current and former residents will be more than $700.

The public housing resident victory has echoes of the closer-to-home but-further-back-in-time successful “Don’t Dump On Us” campaign in Boston. In 1987 the grassroots campaign the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative organized the community to force the closure of illegal trash transfer stations.

What these cases tell me is that discrimination and inequality are systemic, affecting not only how policing gets done and whether an Afro-centric name lowers one’s chances of getting a job but also how communities deal with the bi-products of prosperity: their waste.

Something stinks in Community Development

Two cases have recently made headlines and both strike upon a similar theme: trash pick-up and inequality. Journalists have seized upon the case of a sanitation worker who is now serving jail time for before-hours waste removal in the suburban Atlanta, Georgia community of Sandy Springs. Local police arrested Kevin McGill, 48, an employee Waste Management Inc, after a resident placed a 5 am 911 call, citing violation of a city ordinance prohibiting garbage pick-up prior to 7 am. The city attorney deemed offense worthy of automatic jail time.  McGill has agreed to serve his sentence by spending the next 14 weekends in jail so that he is still able to work and support his wife and two children.  And if you assumed that McGill is an African American and Sandy Springs is a majority white suburb with home values three times the state average, you were correct.

In a community on the other side of the country and socio-economic spectrum, public housing residents recently won a lawsuit against the Los Angeles Housing Authority. A federal district judge found that the housing authority illegally charged residents for trash collection by charging them for trash pickup in addition to their rent. Under the law, trash collection should be included in rent calculations. Instead, on average, tenants paid $24 for trash collection each month. Attorneys for the residents anticipate the average reimbursement to current and former residents will be more than $700.

The public housing resident victory has echoes of the closer-to-home but-further-back-in-time successful “Don’t Dump On Us” campaign in Boston. In 1987 the grassroots campaign the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative organized the community to force the closure of illegal trash transfer stations.

What these cases tell me is that discrimination and inequality are systemic, affecting not only how policing gets done and whether an Afro-centric name lowers one’s chances of getting a job but also how communities deal with the bi-products of prosperity: their waste.