02/03/2009 09:53 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Stimulus, The Poor and The NY Times

In a letter in the New York Times today, I argue that the stimulus package needs more to help the poor than just a boost in social services like food stamps and unemployment benefits (laudable though those investments may be). We need to make real investments in the infrastructure of all of our communities -- especially those that have been left behind for so long already.

Here's the letter:

To the Editor:

Your editorial about the stimulus package's lack of attention to the concerns of low-income Americans ("Sins of Omission: The Forgotten Poor," Feb. 2) was right on target. Though the package does include expansion of food stamps and jobless benefits, social services alone will not meet the needs of the poor.

The huge infrastructure spending already included in the package could easily be retargeted to dramatically improve the lives of millions of low-income Americans and their communities. By expanding mass transit and providing operating funds for cash-strapped transit agencies, we can create and save thousands of jobs and connect residents to economic opportunity throughout their region.

By using tax incentives to lure grocery stores to poor neighborhoods, we can create long-term retail jobs and ensure much-needed access to healthy food. By investing in successful job training programs, we can build a vibrant 21st-century work force.

The stimulus package provides a once-in-a-generation chance to make good on America's promise of equal opportunity for all. Smarter social and infrastructure spending is vital to making that promise a reality.

Angela Glover Blackwell

Oakland, Calif., Feb. 2, 2009

The writer is the founder and chief executive of PolicyLink.

Cross-posted at