As the Director of The Boston Foundation, Lee Pelton is leading the charge to solve the city’s long standing wealth gap problem.
The partnership’s website also reflects this belief, as it gives a brief overview of the sense of the scale of the initiative, “With a data-informed and mission-driven approach to advance racial and economic equity, the Wealth Gap Partnership brings together housing, financial, nonprofit, philanthropic and civic leaders to develop approaches to support, strengthen, and expand the current landscape of affordable homeownership, and through it, build intergenerational wealth for communities of color.”
Pelton, who has a penchant for quoting historical figures due to his previous life as the president of Emerson University, is adamant that a change in the way the business of creating wealth is conducted is key to turning the city’s fortunes around. He uses a game of Jenga to illustrate his point, telling Boston Magazine, “You pull out one block, and it creates stress. You pull out another block; it creates more stress. You pull out too many; it creates trauma. And that’s what we’re finding in these communities. They don’t have the building blocks that they need for wealth and—I’m using it in a really Anglo-Saxon way—well-being.”
In that way, Pelton is making the argument that health is wealth, and to that point, a study conducted by the Boston Public Health Commission uncovered that in Roxbury, a predominantly Black neighborhood, the average life expectancy is 69 years, as opposed to the affluent and largely white Black Bay, where the life expectancy averages 92 years.
Some, like Luc Schuster, the executive director of Boston Indicators at the Boston Foundation, caution that overestimating the effect one effort, no matter how large, can have on Boston. “I do think we need to be careful not to over-promise how much any one local effort like this can really meaningfully close the large multigenerational racial wealth gap in Greater Boston,” Schuster said, before adding, “that shouldn’t be interpreted as a reason not to work on this.” Pelton understands the barometer for any real success on the front of racial and economic justice in Boston will be if his initiative lasts longer than his tenure as the leader of the foundation, saying, “The success of this program, is if it survives me.”
As Boston News 25 reports, Pelton sees housing as one of the most crucial undertakings to address the wealth disparity in Boston. “Because it (housing) is still the largest component of accumulated wealth for most individuals and families. It’s a way to build wealth.”
Source: Black Enterprise