How will the Suburbs Cope with Poverty?
These trends have enormous implications for planning. Particularly when we consider the resources needed to address urban poverty. At least one of the roots of planning grew from progressives' concerns with the slums of the early industrial city. Progressives' concerns were motivated by both self-interest and noblesse oblige. But the fact that the progressives often lived in the same cities as the poor meant they could not always easily ignore the poor and that the interests of the two groups' often overlapped because they were residents of the same cities. Although poor city dwellers were in many ways better off than their rural counterparts, living in the city made them more visible and sparked some progressive reforms.
The suburbanization of poverty, however, runs the risk of isolating the poor from the infrastructure that can help ameliorate some of the challenges of poverty. Anchor institutions such as hospital and universities, and major corporate headquarters are still more likely to be found in central cities. More importantly, while suburbs as a whole are becoming more diverse individual suburban jurisdictions, which are often relatively small, can still be relatively homogenous.
Will the increasing suburbanization of poverty serve to further isolate the poor or will it serve as springboard to escape poverty? Good planning certainly has a role to play here.