Jan 31, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Urban problems and predictions for 2022

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Rising crime, worker shortages, infrastructure problems and housing affordability will be the top issues on cities' agendas in 2022, urban affairs experts predict.

Why it matters: With cities flush from federal COVID relief programs, everyone had hoped they would be able to focus more on quality-of-life issues rather than life-and-death issues — but no.

Driving the news: The bridge collapse in Pittsburgh on the day of President Biden's visit to talk about infrastructure and the rise in urban homicides in 2021 underscore the seriousness of the problems that cities are grappling with.

  • Others include the devastating effects of rapid climate change and the ravages of economic and social inequity.
  • "Years from now, historians might look back and wonder whether the coronavirus was really our worst public health crisis," David Roeder writes in the Chicago Sun-Times, referring to his city's escalating crime woes.

What they're saying: "New York City has been tested to its core in the first month of 2022," begins "The Blueprint to End Gun Violence" issued by NYC's new mayor, Eric Adams.

  • "These weeks have been among the most violent in recent memory, most of it caused by a crisis of gun violence that continues to plague our communities."
  • The report was in the works before two NYPD officers were fatally shot while responding to a routine call last week.

The good news: Lots of resources and smart minds are being thrown at these problems and others.

  • "With federal relief funds and the $1 trillion infrastructure legislation that passed last year, cities will have new resources to tackle challenges such as making public transportation more equitable and accommodating growing numbers of electric vehicles hitting the streets," per Smart Cities Dive.
  • "If the Build Back Better bill becomes law, additional financial resources could help cities reduce greenhouse emissions and continue to grow the momentum around decarbonizing their building stocks."

Among the predictions Smart Cities Dive is making for 2022:

  • "Crime and policing will continue to be top of mind for local leaders."
  • "Electrification in transportation and buildings will grow even more mainstream."
  • "Micromobility will work to become integral to urban transportation systems."
  • "Cities will aim to address housing affordability issues the pandemic has exacerbated."
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