Poverty in the Žburbs
USA Today has an interesting article on a new Brookings study about poverty spreading to the suburbs: Immigration, the dispersal of people who lived in urban housing projects that have been torn down, and revitalization of blighted neighborhoods by the affluent have helped spread poverty well beyond central cities. Suburbs have more jobs than central cities, but skyrocketing costs for housing and gasoline and public resistance to mass transit and housing for low-wage employees are pushing many working people to the brink of poverty. The article rightly harps on the high cost of housing (a natural result of restricted supply), but jumbles things when addressing transit. It notes that one community relaxed zoning ordinances to allow for more housing, but refused to allow a light rail line which would supposedly help poor people. What's particularly interesting is that the community cited is a suburb of St. Louis, where the Federal Reserve recently crunched the numbers and found that it would be better to buy hybrid cars for poor people than to build light rail. That kind of plan would really improve mobility-and by extension job and education prospects--for the poor. Stay tuned for the next Privatization Watch which examines what happens to transit dependent people when light rail comes to town.