Suburban Poverty Case Study: Cobb County, Georgia

"We can’t understand what’s working in America’s cities unless we also look at what’s not working in the vast suburbs that surround them," writes Rebecca Burns.

Rebecca Burns examines the poverty in suburban Atlanta, especially places in Cobb County. Cobb County, according to Burns, "for decades has been synonymous with Atlanta’s suburban affluence but now finds itself facing an epidemic of the very poverty its residents were determined to avoid when they moved out of the city."

"Long considered the epitome of red-state suburban comfort, a quintessentially middle-class kind of place where the median income is $65,000 and people pride themselves on owning their own homes, Cobb County now has other superlatives attached to its name. Between 2000 and 2010, the county’s poverty rate doubled to 12 percent. Just last month, the Urban Institute reported that of all counties in the United States, Cobb is where low-income people have the least chance of finding affordable places to live."

Burns describes Cobb County as the "flip side of the national urban boom," which is to say that it's not a problem unique to Cobb County. "If the old story of poverty in America was crumbling inner cities and drug-addled housing projects, the new story is increasingly one of downscale strip malls and long bus rides in search of ever-scarcer jobs."

The article is a thorough long read, during which Burns examines many examples and personal stories from the Cobb County experience—while also explaining their relevance to suburban locations around the country. 

Full Story: Sprawled Out in Atlanta

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