To be poor and isolated by sprawl

The character of US suburbs is changing and becoming poorer — especially in the Midwest, but also significantly in the Northeast and South, according to a report in Next American City.

The article profiled Mano a Mano Family Resource Center, a social service agency in Lake County, Illinois, that saw its clients rise sevenfold in the last eight years — from 500 to 3,500. Many of the poor served by the agency, which is surrounded mostly be sprawl, don’t drive or can’t always afford to take a car.

“There’s no public transportation, so people can have a hard time getting to us,” says Carolina Duque, who runs the agency. “When the weather is good, we have people walking to get to us.”

That may involve walking along the shoulder of state highways and crossing busy arterial roads.

The report cites a Brookings study that provides a broad picture of rising suburban poverty:

“Between 2000 and 2008, suburbs in the country’s largest metro areas saw their poor population grow by 25 percent — almost five times faster than primary cities.” This demographic tilt translates to large suburbs being home to 1.5 million more poor people than their primary cities.

Among the causes of rising poverty in the suburbs are an influx of immigrants, especially Latinos — many of whom are moving to suburbs directly, without living in a city first. “The promise of plentiful jobs and affordable housing in the suburbs is a powerful lure indeed, but it may be a false one — and the reality may be simply a different set of problems and new categories of costs,” according to the report.

Read remainder of the story at New Urban Network

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About Bob Voelker

Head of the Munsch Hardt (Dallas law firm) Hospitality & Mixed Use Development Group, and former developer of affordable housing. I'm i
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