Michigan tops another list, suburban poverty grows
Yesterday the Brookings Institution released some new data about the rise in suburban poverty. Across the nation there are now more people living in poverty in suburbs than in urban areas.
In the top 10 areas for suburban poverty growth? The areas around Grand Rapids and Detroit. The poverty rate in both these areas hovers between about 11 and 14 percent.
But in Michigan, urban areas are still much more poor than suburban ones. Much more. Like more than twice as poor. Detroit's poverty rate is close to 4o percent and Grand Rapids' is close to 27 percent.
Those are staggering numbers.
The buzz around the Brookings report seems to be circling around the issues of whether or not the suburbs are set up to support people living in poverty. Do they have the transportation and the safety net services? Do they have policies that help or just try to keep more poor people out?
It is also worth questioning whether these findings about an increase in suburban poverty really change what we know about economic segregation.
Neighborhood by neighborhood and census tract by census tract, poverty is still very concentrated. Poverty is on the rise in places like Warren and Wyoming, places that are suburban in a strict sense but have long struggled with economic downturn. There are suburbs in Michigan still very isolated from poverty or even economic struggle.
But perhaps new information about suburban poverty could serve to make everyone (Even policy makers? We can hope.) aware of how pervasive poverty is in the state, even if it doesn't touch everyone's neighborhood.