While the overall suburban population grew slightly during the previous decade, the number of people living below the poverty line in the suburbs grew by 66 percent, compared with 47 percent in cities. The trend quickened when the Great Recession hit, as home foreclosures and unemployment surged. In 2010, 18.9 million suburban Americans were living below the poverty line, up from 11.3 million in 2000.
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. Nassau is having its own fiscal paroxysms, battling with a state control board over budget deficits and overborrowing. An untested new county executive in Suffolk, Steve Bellone, is trying to recover from damage caused by a predecessor who left behind deep structural budget problems. While the island’s economy sputters, town and village governments are considering more layoffs.
Of course, 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.
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i'm the leftist liberal you've been warned about - the one who genuinely supports the expansion of the welfare state. i love politics and data and graffiti and street art and am far too lazy to use my shift key. if you need to reach me, you can email to abbyjean at the google email service.