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America and its conmunities are changing with unsettling rapidity.
Most of this change has been healthy; and most of the problems it
_has caused tend to evoke their own solutions, This country - despite
its transitional strains and its freely-voiced complaints - has an
immense capacity for self-correction.
There is always a temptation - and a pressure - to over-react:
to give equal ear to every complaint, to chase off after every problen,
and to wind up with congeries of programs which may slow up rather than
_accelerate the nation's natural and long-run capacity for self-correction,
Evidence is accumulating that such has already happened in the
federal government's response to urban problems over the past twenty
These have been years of improvisation, and probing. On balance, they
have been constructive, But neither in scale nor impact have they caught
up with the dimensions and force of the nation's urban trends and
The time has come to move from improvisation over a wide front, and
in sometimes contrary directions, to an effort
a) which is aimed at selected problems of transcending importance;
b) which is of a scale large enough to make a difference;
c) which is not dissipated by conflicting policies and administrative
d) which offer powerful incentives to state, local and private
initiative, and thereby move toward a "steady state" of
e) which begin to erase the public's skepticism -- its growing
feeling that public programs are not to be taken seriously,
that more is promised than will ever be delivered.
The Task Force believes that the first priorities for public action
in urban America are related to the growing disparity between city and
suburb. - A disparity which is expressed in the segregation between white
and black, the gap between income in central city and in suburb, the
uneven economic growth in our metropolitan areas, and in our capacity
for response to the problems of central cities.
Today too many of our central cities have become the political
jurisdictions and geographic areas in which accident, design and even
progress have housed an inordinately high proportion of our problem
people and an outsized share of our problens of public policy.
The Task Force on cities decided early in its deliberations to»
focus on these urban disparities.
We have identified two major approaches. The first is a straight-
forward discussion of urban segregation by wee and income and some
recommendations intended to alleviate its effects, The second involves
a series of recommendations - some modest, some sweeping - intended to
increase sharply our ability to deal with urban problems creatively,
responsively, and on a larger scale than is presently possible.
We also have found it convenient to add three smaller sections to
our report; on innovation, the model cities program, and an agenda for
While we reconmend that Federal action in these areas be altered,
refocused and expanded, we admit two general caveats,
1, That our knowledge of how to deal with urban problems both
physical and human is still limited. That a period of intensive and
well-managed experimentation is a necessary first step in any large
scale strategy for altering the pattern of urban development.
2. While we believe that the sorts of programs we are recommending
should have the highest national priority, we recognize how politically
and practically difficult it is to spend a larger portion of our resources
on the urban poor and the central cities. This is true fimdamentally
because the present system of urban development works quite well for
most people, Most Americans are happy in suburbs, they have done well
in the system, and they look forward to doing better. Our report focuses
on the disaffected and they are few. Their potential ee on American
society, however, is enormous,