The setting is a neighborhood on the south side of a major American city. The average household income in the city is nearly $100,000 per year. However, nearly one-third of the population lives on less than $25,000 annually, approximately the same percentage that lives below the poverty line.
The neighborhood is sharply divided into sections along lines of race and socioeconomic status. It is home to numerous renowned historic sites, though tourism levels are far below sites in other parts of the city.
The neighborhood houses a major national university with more than 15,000 students and teachers. Few members of the university community are originally from the surrounding neighborhood. While many live in the neighborhood while they are in school, few stay following graduation. Many members of the faculty choose to live outside the area.
Students at the elementary schools perform well below the state average on standardized tests and several schools may soon be closed due to poor performance. When this happens, children will be transported by bus to other neighborhood schools.
Manufacturing, which provided many jobs in the early and middle years of the 20th century, has declined dramatically. Large areas of industrial land and buildings remain unoccupied and available for redevelopment.
Large-scale public housing projects occupy a significant portion of land but have become notoriously dangerous and undesirable places to live. Calls to raze these developments are increasing.
Rates of street crime, already high, are rising. In one recent weekend, 200 people were injured or killed in gun violence in the city, representing some of the hundreds of deaths attributed to gun violence annually in several recent years. A high proportion of those injuries and deaths are in this neighborhood.
The trauma center for the hospital in the neighborhood has been closed to consolidate city trauma services, which are now located in another neighborhood. Hundreds of new police officers have been assigned to street patrol from administrative assignments and are authorized for special overtime pay that allows them to work longer hours.