A Message from Gretchen Maneval, DirectorOver the last several years, much of the borough of Brooklyn has been booming. It has attracted investment in its commercial and housing sectors not witnessed in nearly a century, and new local businesses have been thriving. Opportunities for growth in Brooklyn's burgeoning green economy have been enthusiastically embraced. There is a renaissance of arts and culture, and a focus on innovative community development and educational practices. Many immigrants are finding avenues for gainful employment, and borough residents can take advantage of the recent investments in cultural institutions, parks and open spaces.
However, as a subtext to this prosperity, irresponsible mortgage lending practices have gone unchecked, and funding has significantly decreased for the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS. There are many voices of families new to this great borough, as well as families who have been entrenched in poverty for generations, that are gravely underrepresented as they are displaced from their homes and communities, excluded from Brooklyn's white collar economy, and deprived of equitable educational opportunities. Many families in Brooklyn are priced out of affordable health care, live amidst considerable violence and are subjected to intolerable environmental living conditions. The recent national economic crisis has exacerbated the plight of Brooklyn’s already encumbered populations, and will undoubtedly add significant numbers to their ranks.
It is imperative during this time of historic change in Brooklyn's diverse neighborhoods that trends are recorded and examined, and that social and economic justice issues are elevated to a public policy discourse that is not only responsive, but proactive when addressing the needs of all Brooklynites. The institutions, businesses, organizations, and government entities serving the borough have an inherent responsibility for ensuring equity in the crafting of public policy, provision of services, and the distribution of often scarce resources. All residents should benefit from the recent wave of investment that has swept onto Brooklyn’s shores, as well as feel empowered to sustain themselves amidst the challenges of the new economic climate. As a rising institution in the borough, the Center for the Study of Brooklyn takes its mandate seriously, and is ready to embark on a research, public policy and civic engagement agenda that honors the vision and tenacity of the borough's residents and those who serve her.