Poverty is growing the fastest in the suburbs, a new research report has found, representing a major shift from when urban areas had the highest number of poor residents. Between 2000 and 2012, the number of distressed neighborhoods grew by almost three-quarters, and the suburban poor population living in those neighborhoods ballooned by 140 percent, according to a research brief from the Brookings Institution. Distressed neighborhoods are Census tracts where poverty rates stand at 40 percent and above. While cities continue to have many more residents living in concentrated poverty, the urban poor population only grew by roughly 50 percent in distressed neighborhoods from 2000 to 2008-2012.
These increases hit hardest in the cities and suburbs in the South and the Southwest, such as Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Florida, which saw the biggest change in the poor population among the country’s 100 largest metro areas. Poverty’s move to the suburbs has major implications for the services these communities need, the brief said, because the suburbs are “ill-equipped and unprepared to deal with the needs of a growing and increasingly concentrated low-income population.”
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— Jacob Passy