Can Suburbia Serve the Poor?

An editorial in The New York Times looks at the dramatic growth of poverty in America’s suburbs over the last decade, and asks if the government safety net is up to the challenge. Focusing on the problems that deepening suburban poverty is creating for government agencies in Suffolk and Nassau Counties on Long Island, and reflecting a national trend as “the number of people living below the poverty line in the suburbs grew by 66 percent” in the last decade, the editors of The New York Times look at the associated social service problems and possible strategies for solving them. The suburbs were not designed for the poor. And even now, local governments are not equipped to see, much less answer, a lot of their needs.  There are things to be done — smarter use of social-service resources, more economic development, a stronger public commitment to mass transit, housing and job training. But those are long-term challenges atop an immediate crisis, which must be addressed by more spending and more staffing to fix the safety net. Solving these problems must begin with an admission that suburban officials and residents have been reluctant to make: Poverty is growing, and it is not going away.

– NYT via Planetizen

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