The old wooden houses lining Waddell Street, some more than a century old, were once home to middle-class African-Americans who worked at the nearby University of Georgia, where many of the neighborhood women cleaned and washed clothes for students. Although the streets weren’t paved until the 1960s and workers only made $2 to $3 a week, it was an upwardly mobile place, where residents, some the sons and daughters of freed slaves, were able to make small payments and eventually buy their own property. Big families lived in small houses and there was a push towards education. In recent decades, this once healthy neighborhood has fallen into disrepair and homes have been neglected or abandoned as jobs in the local manufacturing industry have dried up and the university has replaced on-campus blue-collar staff positions with cheaper student labor.

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"Included in this group [the underrclass] are individuals who lack training and skills and either experience long-term unemployment or are not members of the labor force, individuals who are engaged in street crime and other forms of aberrant behavior, and families that experience long-term spells of poverty and/or welfare dependency."

- The Truly Disadvantaged: The Inner City, the Underclass, and Public Policy, by William Julius Wilson