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Poverty is reaching American suburbs as low-income people are pushed out of big cities


American suburbs have been known for decades to be the safe haven of the middle-class and the affluent. The main characteristic of American suburban life was its extremely low crime rate, which attracted many families and their willingness to commute back and forth between work and their houses. However, suburban life is currently under threat as poverty is rapidly rising than in big cities nowadays.



Number of People living below the poverty line, by geography line

Source: Brookings Institute


The fact that poverty is rising faster in American suburbs than in big cities is a complex issue with a variety of contributing factors. One factor is that the cost of living in big cities is rising rapidly, making it difficult for low-income people to afford to live there. This has led to an influx of low-income people moving to the suburbs, where the cost of living is generally lower. According to the Brookings Institute, in 2022, roughly one in 10 suburban residents lived in poverty (9.6%), compared to about one in six primary cities (16.2%). The rate of suburban poverty rose three times faster than urban poverty between 2019 and 2022.

Another factor is that many suburbs are not well-equipped to deal with the needs of low-income residents. For example, many suburbs have poor public transportation, making it difficult for low-income residents to get to and from work. Additionally, many suburbs have limited access to affordable housing and other social services.

The rise of poverty in suburbs has a number of negative consequences. For example, it can lead to an increase in crime and social unrest. Additionally, it can make it difficult for low-income children to get a good education, especially as many poor suburban schools are underfunded. Public schools in the United States are collectively underfunded by about $150 billion every year.

There is an inextricable link between poverty and crime. As poverty rises, crime rate rises too. According to a study by the Brennan Center for Justice, crime rates in suburban areas have increased faster than in urban areas in recent years. This is due to a number of factors, including the rise of poverty in the suburbs, the decline of manufacturing jobs, and the increase in drug use and trafficking.

There are a number of things that can be done to address the issue of poverty in the suburbs. One is for the mayors in suburban areas to encourage real estate developers to invest in affordable housing. Additionally, suburbs need to improve their public transportation systems and make other changes to make them more livable for low-income residents. Moreover, one is to invest in crime prevention programs, such as after-school programs and job training programs for young people. Additionally, suburbs need to improve their public safety infrastructure, such as hiring more police officers and investing in new technologies.

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