In an effort to get government grants, The County has successfully painted a negative image of the City of Chester, Pennsylvania.
As of the 2000 census, there were 36,854 people, 12,814 households, and 8,124 families residing in the city. In the 1960s, Chester began losing its mainstay shipyard and automobile manufacturing jobs, and this has caused the population to decline by nearly half in 50 years.
Poverty and crime rose as the population decreased. In 1995, the state designated Chester as a financially distressed municipality. Soon thereafter, the city’s schools ranked last among the state’s 501 districts, and as of the 2010 census, there were only 33,972 people living in the city.
Over the past 50 years, Chester, PA has felt the effects of great social movement. It has seen the unionization of the work force, the world opening to cheaper labor, and the exodus of the middle class to the outskirts of the city, forming suburban communities. These things happened all at the same time, at the expense of Chester. This along with with the relocation of the county court house from Chester to Media caused the city to become even less important to the county.
At the same time, Delaware County’s industry overall has also been shifting from manufacturing to service, however the county government taken action to attract more service-based industry to the county. New office buildings were built county-wide, attracting new businesses. Real estate investors and developers soon followed by building townhouses and apartment buildings in the suburbs of Chester to accommodate the influx of people following these new businesses. These changes altered the way of life for the residents of Chester, and it created communities of discontented people who have been left behind.
The city officials’ failures to react to these changes consign Chester’s future growth to the wishes of the county. Unfortunately, the county’s plan was to attract new service industry to the open lands in Delaware County, not to the City of Chester.
The county created and expanded social supports in an attempt to reign in the overall gloominess created in Chester. As a result, Chester now has approximately 60% of the population on some kind of public assistance. At the same time, taxes are the highest in the county, and the housing stock is old and deteriorated. Chester has now moved from a manufacturing-based economy to one based on social relief and grants.
The downward trend of the city begun, but the county found a new use for Chester. It will be home to Delaware County’s poorest and most destitute citizens. With the aid of federal and state grants, the county is establishing more programs for the poor, uneducated, and unemployed people of the county, these programs offer high-salaries to their directors. These high-paying appointments enjoy the power that comes from controlling the poor.
If Chester, PA is to be a successful city again, it can’t have the majority of its people live at the point of bare subsistence. To become successful, the City of Chester must rebuild its good reputation, and this should start with a shift in perspective.
The government must spend the taxpayers’ money prudently, making decisions that deal with the development, management, and rehabilitation of the city. Chester’s social agencies must stop painting a picture of a city that is home to crime, poverty, and ignorance in order to qualify for further social programs. The city’s housing program needs to become a success and a positive influence by having other goals beyond simply housing the poor. Housing Grants should be given to small investors for the renovation of existing homes in Chester. More time and effort must be put into changing the future of Chester, starting with the people.If changes don’t happen, and Delaware County continues to use the poverty-stricken people of Chester as their cash cows, the people of Chester should look elsewhere for the future of Chester, and for the future of our children. Chester is a 3rd class city Do we really need to have the county as our middleman?