A Frank Discussion About Struggling Suburbs
"There’s been endless discussion on the impact of new residents in core cities, but we’re not talking enough about what’s happening in the suburbs and whether those peripheral areas are ready for the accelerating changes taking place there," writes Pete Saunders to begin a discussion about race and the suburbs. "Growing numbers of African-Americans, Latinos and Asians are finding new homes on the metro periphery -- contributing to the diversification of American suburbia but also to its difficult problems."
Saunders begins with south Cook County, in Illinois outside of Chicago, as an example of a diversifying suburban area that has experienced more of the "downsides of contemporary suburbia than the benefits":
Its residents were impacted heavily by manufacturing job loss, and the area was especially vulnerable to the run-up of subprime mortgages that helped cause the Great Recession. As a result, incomes and property values have stagnated. In 2017, the city of Chicago surpassed suburban south Cook overall in median household income for the first time since 1980. Median home values in south Cook remain about half as much as for the metro area.
As noted by Saunders, south Cook County is far from alone. Similar examples can be found in Maryland, Georgia, and Missouri, for instance. These communities will require a number of policy strategies to deal with the challenges of stagnant growth and property values.