The neighborhood is bleak. There are no trees on the streets. The gas stations give the residents what little food there is to eat, especially after ten pm. This is often when bad things happen. When drug addicts fill the spaces on dimly lit streets. When gunshots ring out in the darkness. These places aren’t always bad, many times they are products of four major factors that influence these neighborhoods negatively.
The issue of drugs is prevalent and wide-reaching in this country. The issue crosses racial, economic, and social divides. Although some surveys have stated that white Americans are more likely to have tried illicit drugs, the impact of drug convictions and use seem to effect black communities across the board in a much more profound way. Black citizens can be up to three times more likely to be arrested and incarcerated for drug convictions than their white counterparts.
Statistics from 2008 have African-Americans and Hispanics comprising 58% of the prison population in the United States. Crime however seems to have more to do with poverty than color or race. A study done by the Bureau of Justice states that poorer households were victimized twice as much as people from households with higher incomes. With the emergence of the prison industrial complex over the last few decades the punishments for crimes have become longer on average. This is another devastating blow to low income neighborhoods. Longer sentences mean that people from those neighborhoods often are away from those communities without any reasonable chance of making positive contributions there.
Many poorer and under privileged neighborhoods in this country are considered to be food deserts by the census bureau. Food deserts have been less well known as causes for the decline of neighborhoods. Recent years have seen information regarding nutrition and its effects on people become a topic of discussion. The State of Florida alone has three hundred and twenty-six food deserts. Most are in rural communities in which access to healthy food options are rare. The metropolitan areas afflicted by this issue are commonly low income and predominately neighborhoods of color. The lack of fresh foods and produce can lead to health and psychological issues in these communities.
One factor that can be over-looked when it comes to areas deemed to be less desirable is aesthetics. In affluent neighborhoods aesthetics play a crucial role in housing costs and the perception of the neighborhood. On the opposite side of that coin, low income neighborhoods are usually less aesthetically pleasing. These neighborhoods have less grass to play on, more concrete giving off heat, and more combustion leading to poor air quality. It can and has been argued by some that these things contribute to higher crime in these neighborhoods.