Sun Belt Cities Are Facing Many Changes and Challenges

Cities across this swath of the country have rapidly growing populations and economies. At the same time, Sun Belt cities are contending with a common host of urban issues that should not be overlooked.

1 minute read

August 25, 2020, 7:00 AM PDT

By Camille Fink


I-45 and I-69

Trong Nguyen / Shutterstock

"The U.S. population, like that in Charlotte, is growing, and much of the growth is in the cities of the Sun Belt. A report from the Kinder Institute for Urban Research says the country should be paying more attention to those Sun Belt cities — treating them as a specific genre that needs its own body of research," writes Mary Newsom.

The report notes that Sun Belt cities across the country, from Los Angeles to Miami, have seen both rapid population growth and demographic shifts. These metropolitan areas are also experiencing declines in housing affordability, increases in poverty levels, and the impacts of climate change. In addition, the auto-oriented development that characterizes Sun Belt metros is reflected in high pedestrian death rates and low transit ridership.

The report also highlights the lack of resources as a major challenge for these cities in addressing issues in the coming years. "In older cities, government and philanthropic institutions are go-to sources for problem-solving. But in Sun Belt cities, per-capita government spending is significantly lower, as are philanthropic resources," says Newsom.

Thursday, August 6, 2020 in Urban Edge

Red on white 'Room for Rent, Inquire Inside' sign

In Most U.S. Cities, Archaic Laws Limit Roommate Living

Critics argue laws preventing unrelated adults from living in the same home fail to understand the modern American household.

May 24, 2023 - The Atlantic

Vancouver Chuck Wolfe

Ten Signs of a Resurgent Downtown

In GeekWire, Chuck Wolfe continues his exploration of a holistic and practical approach to post-pandemic urban center recovery, anchored in local context and community-driven initiatives that promote livability, safety, and sustainability.

May 24, 2023 - GeekWire

New York MTA subway station

Off-Peak is the New On-Peak

Public transit systems in major U.S. cities are starting to focus on non-rush hour travelers as pre-pandemic commuting patterns shift and transportation needs change.

May 19, 2023 - Curbed

Nighttime view of Tacoma, Washington skyline

Tacoma Coalition Calls for ‘Tenants’ Bill of Rights’

The group wants to put more power in the hands of tenants, but the city has its own, competing proposal for addressing the housing crisis.

May 26 - The Urbanist

Wind turbines sillhouetted against a sunset sky along roadway in New Mexico

New Power Transmission Line Approved in the Southwest

The proposed transmission line will transfer wind-produced power from New Mexico to cities in Arizona and California.

May 26 - U.S. News And World Report

Aerial view of 238 freeway in Oakland, California cutting through neighborhood with small houses

The Limitations of ‘Reconnecting Communities’

The Biden administration has pledged to correct the damage imposed on communities by highways and infrastructure, but many projects are only committing to minor improvements, not transformative changes.

May 26 - The New York Times

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.