On Poverty's New Suburban Look

Author Scott Allard debunks lingering myths about how people experience poverty in cities. Poverty's suburbanization, he argues, has more to do with the loss of jobs than migration from "inner cities."

Read Time: 1 minute

August 3, 2017, 8:00 AM PDT

By Philip Rojc @PhilipRojc


Arizona Suburb

Tim Roberts Photography / Shutterstock

Nowadays, poverty's suburban face challenges old notions of "inner cities" as repositories for the less fortunate. According to one narrative, Tanvi Misra writes, "As cities become more expensive, immigrants and communities of color have made a home for themselves outside the urban core—only to come face-to-face with the same issues they left behind."

In an interview, Scott Allard, author of Places in Need, complicates that picture. One of his findings: "When you break out the suburban regions, there are more poor people in the newer suburbs combined than in the older suburbs." At the same time, race doesn't define suburban poverty. "What you see is fairly consistent increases in poverty across race and ethnic groups in the suburbs. The increases among whites are large and substantial, as are increases among blacks and Hispanics."

While plenty of people are moving outward to escape newly expensive "inner cities," migration isn't suburban poverty's biggest driving force. According to Allard, "the most important factor is change in the labor market—the decline of the number of good-paying low-skilled jobs."

Thursday, July 6, 2017 in CityLab

Chicago Commute

The Right to Mobility

As we consider how to decarbonize transportation, preserving mobility, especially for lower- and middle-income people, must be a priority.

January 26, 2023 - Angie Schmitt

Green bike lane with flexible delineators and textures paint in Hoboken, New Jersey

America’s Best New Bike Lanes

PeopleForBikes highlights some of the most exciting new bike infrastructure projects completed in 2022.

January 31, 2023 - PeopleforBikes

Sharrow bike markings on black asphalt two-lane road with snowy trees

Early Sharrow Booster: ‘I Was Wrong’

The lane marking was meant to raise awareness and instill shared respect among drivers and cyclists. But their inefficiency has led supporters to denounce sharrows, pushing instead for more robust bike infrastructure that truly protects riders.

January 26, 2023 - Streetsblog USA

A tent covered in blue and black tarps sits on a downtown Los Angeles sidewalk with the white ziggurat-topped L.A. City Hall looming in the background

L.A. County Towns Clash Over Homelessness Policies

Local governments often come to different conclusions about how to address homelessness within their respective borders, but varying approaches only exacerbate the problem.

February 3 - Shelterforce Magazine

Rendering of mixed-use development with parks and stormwater retention on former Houston landfill site

A Mixed-Use Vision for Houston Landfill Site

A local nonprofit is urging the city to consider adding mixed-use development to the site, which city officials plan to turn into a stormwater detention facility.

February 3 - Urban Edge

Aerial view of downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin at sunset

Milwaukee County Makes Substantial Progress on Homelessness

In 2022, the county’s point-in-time count of unhoused people reflected just 18 individuals, the lowest in the country.

February 3 - Urban Milwaukee