Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Poverty and the Suburbs Not Ready for It

A good article at Governing.com discussing the lack of resources for poverty moving outwards as wealth returns to the more productive land closer to city centers:
By far the greatest challenge of suburban poverty, though, is geography. In a sprawling suburban community, where poor residents might be a dozen miles from a social service agency, it can be almost impossible for them to get the help they need. "It's the geography first and foremost," says George Searcy, executive director of the Hope Through Housing Foundation, an agency based in suburban Los Angeles that helps provide housing for low-income families. In urban centers, he says, "not only do you have a more dense population, you have a more dense concentration of services." In suburban communities, it's just the opposite. "Everything is so geographically dispersed, you could spend hours just trying to get to the places you need for help. And if you don't drive, you're getting on a bus. And it's difficult to even get there on a bus."

Transportation is a major issue for the people Marquez works with in Virginia. "It's a vicious circle," she says. "It costs a lot of money to own and maintain a car, but if you give it up, you limit yourself even further."