The new paradigm of poverty is playing out in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania: the majority of individuals in poverty live the suburbs, where the impacts of poverty are harder to identify.
Recent census figures show that 61 percent of residents living in poverty in Allegheny County, anchored by Pittsburgh, live in the suburbs.
Anya Sostek reports that the region’s historic methods for people to move out of poverty are no longer available: “[using] the example of the Waterfront in Homestead -- once U.S. Steel's Homestead Works, where a kid growing up in Pittsburgh could have a reasonable expectation of someday securing a job paying about $14 an hour. Now, that space is filled with retail jobs paying between $8 and $10.”
Sostek makes general points, such as how the lack of public spaces and dispersed living arrangements in the suburbs can mask the signs of poverty. Also, suburban towns don’t have the same services in place for assisting families and individuals living in poverty, and service cuts can have an exponentiated effect: “budget cuts at the Port Authority of Allegheny County cut back bus service by about 15 percent. For people who had moved there just because of the bus lines, this was life-changing.”
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