The Rise Of The Surburban Slum?

William Fulton observes that while high-income households are flocking to the inner-city and gobbling up pricey condos, poor families are having to double and triple up just to afford a home in the suburbs.

"For a century, people in Southern California moved to the suburbs as they got richer, leaving the more "urban" parts of town to poor people. Now that pattern has reversed itself. Affluent people are leaving the suburbs to live in the city, while the working poor -- people who have jobs but don't earn enough to exceed the poverty line -- are doubling and tripling up in the suburbs to buy houses.

The migration of the affluent to the inner city has gradually increased in the last three years. According to a study by the Downtown Center Business Improvement District, the household median income of downtown residents with a least one earner was about $99,600 a year in 2006, roughly $28,000 higher than that of Beverly Hills. Nearly half of those surveyed reported annual income of $100,000 to above $250,000.

Demand for condos is so strong that virtually every older office building downtown has been converted to condominiums. Though condo sales have recently slowed, prices have held in the $500- to $700-per-square-foot range. That translates to $500,000 for a studio.

Meanwhile, the population density of older, working-class suburbs is rising. This is especially true in mostly Latino suburbs, including Pico Rivera, Rosemead and Fountain Valley. According to 2000 census data, the size of the average household in such suburbs has been rising since the 1980s and now approaches four people in some areas. In part, the greater density is attributable to larger families, but it is also the result of families doubling and tripling up to make the mortgage."

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