When we started suburban-poverty.com we had no idea what we’d come across. Texas has surprised us a little. Perhaps because right wing presidential hopeful Perry hails from Texas the state is enjoying some extra profile in North American discourse. It seems the economy is doing well in right wing terms: lots of new crap jobs, low taxes and so forth. The state is also physically more or less on fire from one end to the other, has been a brutal series of global warming oranges and reds on the continental weather maps for some time now. Here’s some more Texas consciousness for you:
Poverty in the suburbs looks different than urban models
It just keeps getting better with Elizabeth Warren. I mean, who else do you think we’d have a crush on around here? A critter like Ayn Rand, uber goddess to the far right? A woman we just discovered spent the last seven years of her life collecting social security?
2010 Census data has come under analysis and it shows that the general US economy is not in the best of shape. Curiously, the percentage rate of African American poverty is a just a tad lower than that for white Americans. It’s hard to say off-the-cuff what this means but we see it’s enough to get this emerging downturn labelled in the mainstream media as ‘different this time’ and as a suburban recession/depression.
Welcome to the suburban depression CNBC
One doesn’t have to look far or be a professional demographer/geographer to find evidence of suburban poverty. Des Moines, Iowa put its hand up during roll call in 2007.
Rethinking Social Services in the Des Moines Suburbs
NPR page with audio file
America has think tanks. It would be tough to count just how many there are. Luckily, at least one or two are getting their collective brain power around suburban poverty. This posting links to a research brief from the Center for Studying Health Care Change. The brief looks at health care data for poorer suburban populations in Boston, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Miami, and Seattle. It seems these populations rely on visits to hospital emergency departments and face barriers to service including transportation. Many suburban poor it seems also travel to hospitals in older core areas that face this demand for service on top of local, urban demands. This document adds thoughtful detail to what suburban poverty means in the United States.
Suburban poverty and the health care safety net
Leaving core city areas for cheaper housing in the suburbs is one of the few strategies available to lower income people. Thing is, when they get out to the suburbs public transit is scarce and car ownership sometimes mandatory. The financial requirements of getting around, especially reaching a workplace, could easily soak up any gains from the cheaper housing.
These two links are to short items on Wired blogs. They mention a Brookings Institution report into the matter and a recent American civil rights conference which concluded that reasonable access to transportation is actually a human right.
Ever wait in snow up to your ankles for a bus at 5:30 in the morning? Ever have the timing belt snap on a fifteen year old Honda Civic in an industrial park after getting off the afternoon shift? If so, you know what it’s all about.
No public transit? No job…
Transportation as a civil rights issue
A Columbus, Ohio study done last year discovered suburban school boards there to be notably poorer than boards elsewhere. That can’t be good for anybody in Ohio’s largest city, can it?
Poverty rising in suburban schools Columbus Dispatch
Resiliency is a charcteristic normally discussed in relation to a single individual. The ability to persevere, to grow, to find resources, to face obstacles and keep moving forward is admired in people. What is good in a person is good in an entire community, too. The resilience of suburban living arrangements is increasingly in question. Leaving aside the possible energy and economic future of suburban living we think it fair to say that the suburbs simply grew too fast. Is it possible that traditional non-profit agencies, state/provincial, municipal, and even national governmental social service agencies simply cannot cope? A couple of academics associated with the University of California and the Brookings Institution recently studied the problems of suburban poverty in Chicago, Denver, Atlanta, and Detroit. An important conclusion was that philanthropy could make a serious counter attack on suburban poverty. In an era of public sector fiscal disaster it is hard to come up with other ideas, but will it happen?
The safety net is thin in suburbs despite growing poverty UC Berkely
Some effort is required to picture a hundred thousand houses, let alone that number left abandoned.
Here’s 100 of them for starters.
Images and statistics of a decayed and dying Detroit have been widely circulated and have become almost a commonplace feature of the Internet. The criticism of such imagery as mere ruin porn is justified …to a point. Yet, how ironic that Detroit is the place that spawned the Model T automobile. Mass produced for sale to the a mass industrial populace the Model T was the grand, uber-progenitor of the primary tool of participation in suburban living – the private automobile.
Squatters Are Taking Over Detroit’s 100,000 Vacant Homes
None other than Commie Rambo Ernesto Che Guevara wrote down a series of principles for suburban warfare. He saw the suburban environment as a unique and difficult venue for guerrilla fighters. His particular vision is long gone but others have been giving some thought to what might come to pass out on the perimeter. Survivalists have certainly been around forever and the invention of the internet gave them a boost. Normally, we’d associate this ammo-and-canned-food-hoarding crowd with rural areas, not suburbia. At least, until we came across these blogs that is. Perhaps things are changing? Did you know acorns can be an awesome post-collapse food source?
Lock and load!
Surviving the Suburbs
Suburban Survival Blog