Photo: From the Flickr collection of TheTruthAbout.
One of the main forces compelling people to abandon central cities in favor of far-flung suburbs in the years following World War II (besides government subsidized home loans and highways) was the concentration of poverty in urban environments.
The worm has turned: A long-term series of policies aimed at squeezing/eliminating the middle class combined with suburban growth patterns that have proved unsustainable have created clusters of entire cul-de-sacs and subdivisions that are foreclosed or rapidly degrading. Beyond the blight of abandoned McMansions, property tax-funded school districts are being de-funded to the bone, causing economically stable families to leave - - sprawling further out - - while depleted suburbs are left wondering how, for instance, they'll pay to plow those cul-de-sacs.
Highlights from The Brookings Institute Study:
By 2008, suburbs were home to the largest and fastest-growing poor population in the country.
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 and well ahead of the growth seen in smaller metro areas and non-metropolitan communities. As a result, by 2008 large suburbs were home to 1.5 million more poor than their primary cities and housed almost one-third of the nation’s poor overall.
Midwestern cities and suburbs experienced by far the largest poverty rate increases over the decade.
Led by increasing poverty in auto manufacturing metro areas—like Grand Rapids and Youngstown—Midwestern city and suburban poverty rates climbed 3.0 and 2.2 percentage points, respectively. At the same time, Northeastern metros—led by New York and Worcester— actually saw poverty rates in their primary cities decline, while collectively their suburbs experienced a slight increase.