Rather than being inevitable cesspools of crime and sin,” says Howard Husock of the Manhattan Institute, “cities are, rather, the key foundations of prosperity and economic dynamism, the places where social and economic freedom [take] root and bear fruit.”

Husock joined a panel at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in DC—“Saving Freedom in Urban Centers”—where panelists discussed conservative solutions to inner city challenges such as poverty, crime and education.

The solutions focused on the need to restore human dignity and empower individuals by encouraging personal responsibility through relationships. Star Parker from the Coalition on Urban Renewal and Education (CURE) pointed out that “faith and market principles are key to curing poverty” and that we should “develop social policies that encourage individual merit and personal responsibility.” Niger Innis of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) emphasized the need for self-government and equal opportunity, rather than prescribing equal outcomes.

Howard Husock of the Manhattan Institute provided examples of how conservative policies have allowed areas formerly tarnished with crime and poverty to prosper, including the 1996 welfare reform, 1990s Compstat policing in New York City, and public housing reform in Atlanta.

Challenging circumstances should not be used as justification for the government continuing to create and enforce federal programs that don’t work.  Instead, government policy should create an environment that empowers individuals, communities, churches, charities and businesses through sound economic policy and work incentives that help welfare recipients move to independence. Poverty should be addressed from the ground up by restoring relationships, restoring communities, and restoring civil society.

To learn more about such strategies and to read Howard Husock’s remarks, Conservatives and Cities, visit www.restoringsocialjustice.com. Also, to learn more on how free market economic principles capture the ideas of human flourishing, prosperity, and freedom, check out our booklet Freedom Economics and Human Dignity: Economics for the Good of People.

This post is co-authored by Mauri Franke. Franke is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at the Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit: http://www.heritage.org/about/departments/ylp.cfm