Allow me to paraphrase Paul Revere and address the suburbs directly: "The Poors are coming! The Poors are coming!" Or, less catchily-phrased, the poor population in America's suburbs has been rising rapidly since 2000. Specifically, it's risen by fifty-three percent since 2000, as opposed to twenty-six percent in cities. The recession helped things along considerably: about two-thirds of the newly suburban poor were added from 2007 to 2010.
Elizabeth Kneebone, a senior researcher at the Brookings Institution, who conducted the analysis of census data:
"The growth has been stunning. For the first time, more than half of the metropolitan poor live in suburban areas."
Midwestern suburbs experienced a high influx, but lately the rise has been sharpest in areas devastated by the housing crisis. Nearly sixty percent of Cleveland's poor, for example, now live in the suburbs, up from forty-six percent in 2000.
My knee-jerk reaction here is schadenfreude. I grew up in the suburbs and went to a school that looked down on the city across the river (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania) as a dirty, crime-ridden place. People went there to get drunk or take in a symphony in the "safe" part of downtown before fleeing (to paraphrase Joe Strummer) back to their Safe Suburban Homes. The problems of "those people" were remote and therefore unrelatable. Now the suburbs are forced to confront what the cities always have.
But I can't in good conscience take joy in that; it's too simplistic a view. Maybe, though, this reverse gentrification will make us suburbanites learn that keeping our problems at arms' length isn't a good way to deal with them.