Saturday, December 9, 2006

The Bizarro City: In the Bizarro World, the poor live in the suburbs, not the city... According to "All Things Considered," yesterday, this is the first time that more poor people have lived outside cities. It's a strange thought, really -- that somehow cities are reverting to the 19th century city in their development. I think what we're seeing is a return to the Industrial Revolution-era doughnut topography of a city, where the poor and lower middle class residents of a city live in a ring between the neighborhoods immediately surrounding commercial districts (the inner hole), where wealthy urbanites live and do commerce, and the outer reaches of the city, where wealthy suburbanites live on sprawling estates.

"If you look at what's happening to housing size, and where people who are moving who are middle- and upper-income families, that's not the homes they want," says [Rebecca Blank, dean of the School of Social Policy at the University of Michigan].

But [Alan] Berube [of the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institute] estimates that 60 percent of the suburban poor live beyond that inner ring of suburbs. They're the ones cleaning those gleaming office towers near freeways, he says. Wherever low-income workers migrate, Berube says, it's ultimately the "wrong side of the tracks."

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