Sunday, October 16, 2011

suburbs - designed to keep the poor out - pure hell for the newly poor within

HuffPo | EDGEWATER, Colo. -- Before the unraveling, Selena Blanco and her family felt secure in their hold on middle class life in this bedroom community just west of Denver. She and her husband both held professional jobs in industries that seemed sheltered from trouble, his in technology, hers in health care. Together they brought home $100,000 a year, enough to allay concerns about paying the bills, let alone having to ask for help.

But over the last two years, both have lost their jobs. Her unemployment check ran out in the spring, leaving them to subsist on his jobless benefits alone, about $1,500 a month.

The Blanco's shattered fortunes have supplied them an unwanted new status, one they share with millions of suburban households in a nation previously accustomed to thinking of suburbia in upwardly mobile terms: They are poor.

They are officially so according to the federal government's definition, which sets the poverty line for a family of five at an annual income of $26,023 or less. It is viscerally true when one sees how Blanco, 28, now spends her day. She takes her four-year-old son to a county-operated Headstart program, free preschool for the poor. She forages for clothes at thrift stores. She scrounges for coupons to keep her family fed.

"We were doing well," Blanco says, dabbing at reddening eyes with a tissue, trying to make sense of events that contradict her understanding of what is supposed to happen to people who work, save and provide for their children. "My husband and I would go out to eat without even thinking about it. We bought shoes. When I needed a bra, I went to Victoria's Secret. Now we're like, 'Which Goodwill is having a sale?'"

They have applied for food stamps and the cash assistance program familiarly known as welfare, crossing a previously unimaginable threshold: For the first time in her life, Blanco -- a self-possessed, confident, intelligent woman who still carries herself like someone who used to work in an office -- has entered the ranks of those in need of public assistance.

"It's a horrible feeling," she says, tears staining her face. "There's pride. I don't show my kids that we're hurting, but it hurts me. It makes me feel like I'm failing as a parent. It's embarrassing."

Despite the typically urban associations evoked by talk of poverty in America, Blanco is the face of an emerging segment of the nation's poor now growing faster than any other. Though cities still have nearly double the rate of poverty as suburban areas, the number of people living in poverty in the suburbs of major metropolitan areas increased by 53 percent between 2000 and 2010, as compared to an increase of 23 percent among city-dwellers, according to a Brookings Institution analysis of recently released census data. In 16 metropolitan areas, including Atlanta, Dallas and Milwaukee, the suburban poor has more than doubled over the last decade.

The swift growth of suburban poverty is reshaping the sociological landscape, while leaving millions of struggling households without the support that might ameliorate their plight: Compared to cities, suburban communities lack facilities and programs to help the poor, owing to a lag in awareness that large numbers of indigent people are in their midst. Some communities are wary of providing services out of fear they will make themselves magnets for the poor.

In the suburbs, getting to county offices to apply for aid or to food banks generally requires a car or reliance on a typically minimal public transportation network. The same transportation constraints limit working opportunities, with many jobs potentially beyond reach and would-be employers reluctant to hire people who lack their own vehicles.

20 comments:

nanakwame said...

 Some communities are wary of providing services out of fear they will make themselves magnets for the poor.
The nous of the neo-conservative, catch two birds with one stone, especially in the South. The world becomes smaller, sensibilities have not changed though.

CNu said...

James Kunstler did the first and best job of dissecting the sheer moral horror of suburbia. http://www.ted.com/talks/james_howard_kunstler_dissects_suburbia.html

Since nobody was trying to hear that, when the music abruptly stopped playing a few years ago, urban escapees found themselves stuck standing where they'd imagined themselves moving on up to - what is in effect THE most wasteful, unsustainable and ultimately and inevitably disposable place they could automotively convey themselves to. karma....,

Dale Asberry said...

http://kunstler.com/blog/ for his weekly comments

Big Don said...

Watched the first half of the Kunstler Kritique, he has it all wrong.  Cities are what suck.   Too crowded, gotta take public transportation crushed together with TB-spewing illegals and other diseased scumbag riff-raff pick-pocketing & mugging LOOTerz.  Problem is crime, apts in large "appealing" cities all have doormen, you gotta be admitted or buzzed in, otherwise every apt has six lockZ and deadboltZ.  No room to walk on the sidewalks, garbage everywhere, too crowded, go out in the clean sanitary 'burbs, how many doors/windows with bars do you see, huh?  Mebbe around fringes of DC, Chgo, KC, Atlanta.  Suburbs man, duzn't matter what it looks like if you can live there safely.... 

From what you can gloean from his blog, the hypocrite Kunstler lives out in the small-farmish New England country, not in downtown MFkg NYC...

Dale Asberry said...

Little Boy, you are a nitwit-extraordinaire. Kunstler advocates small, resilient communities. Cities are the next best option due to density and ability to repurpose. It is also where the people are.

Discussions hereabouts include the unfortunate side-effect of cities being the killing fields of the future.

Big Don said...

During the Great Meltdown Killings to come, your likelihood of being killed will be directly proportional to how many people live within walking distance from you.
Suburbs will be safer than city proper.  Boonies safer yet.  It will have nothing to do with stylish appeal of your local society...unless, of course, your "small resilient community" is a survival compound with handful of trusted associate families , e.g., castle with moat & drawbridge, or razor-wired walls with gun-towers.  Go read some Rawles.... http://www.survivalblog.com/

DD said...

Swing and a miss...the cities will be safer,
from somebody who knows
, not an upper middle class toy-hoarder.

Tom said...

Solid sounding piece, DD.  

In case any subtlety has crept in here: Big Don equates safety with being far away from Black people.

Big Don said...

Disproportional well-established genetic tendencies to violence.  Think OJ Simpson...
http://detroitiscrap.com/2010/01/black-murderers-of-white-people-impossible-to-convict/

CNu said...

Lol@disproportional.well-established.tendency.to.clown

Big Don said...

CNu, believe you posted something here once to the effect that every time you have spotted a news headline, about some stupid outrageous random crime, you read it with trepidation fearing what you will probably find therein.... LOL!
A couple of recent items...http://www.ajc.com/news/henry/police-cell-phone-thief-1195531.html?cxtype=rss_newshttp://m.nypost.com/p/news/local/bronx/tragic_pill_baby_I0h81U8jixiH7ZtbLcuaHI

Tom said...

Knew a young woman who held pretty much the same ideas on safety that you do, BD.   This was in New Haven CT, and I tried to make the obvious statistical point to her that virtually 100% of the threat in that venue emanated from plain old white people.   No dice.  And she's still alive as far as I know, but a few years later another young woman who worked in the same building was raped, killed, and her remains hidden  inside a wall cavity by a white co-worker.   

Have a nice day!

CNu said...

no BD, i've never expressed any qualms about "probably find" - that's all you. Otoh - I have expressed trepidation about exceptionally egregious instances of killer-apery and ass-clownery - and the "hope that's not a negro" sentiment -to date i've not been unpleasantly surprised or disappointed...,

Big Don said...

BD is waiting for the Feds to catch the folks who stole Obama's teleprompter and sound equipment in Henrico Cty, VA (30% black)...

Big Don said...

Dude!  You can't refute an S_Load of statistics with one data point...

Tom said...

I'm confused, BD.   You feel there's only one data point for white on white crime?  Or ...?

Tom said...

Correction, that perp was white, victim was not.  In my world there are even more data points for white-on-x crime.  BD world data TBD....?

CNu said...

Refute?!?!

Lol, no need to refute data that I don't even correlate...,

Big Don said...

Today's awesome *DOOM* article...  http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/the-new-reality-for-u-s-cities-no-money-for-street-lights-roving-packs-of-wild-dogs-and-open-air-drug-markets

DD said...

 See, the Archdruid is so right, everyone seems to think life is a movie, with a strong narrative structure. But reality just doesn't play out that way. Even if you believe in "decline," or an inevitable decrease in Energy Per Capita, all actual historical evidence points to a very long, oscillating pattern of peaks and valleys in the economic and cognitive systems. Nobody wants shit to go down, and hoarding Death Eaters are just buying in to an extreme Messianic view of Collapse.

The myth of progress, and the myth of apocalypse are both false.

Am I really the only one who's read The Long Descent ?

Just a snippet:

In the colonial states of the European diaspora, from the 18th century right up to the present, it's been a popular bit of rhetoric to contrast the rich, crowded, and wicked cities of the coasts with the poor, isolated, and allegedly more virtuous backcountry. Fuse that rhetoric with one version or another of Christian apocalyptic mythology with the serial numbers filed off, and you get the classic survivalist creed.