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The poverty of suburban America
May 29, 2013 12:20 PM   Subscribe

During the decade 2000-10 in the USA, for the first time the number of poor people in major metropolitan suburbs surpassed the number in cities. Between 2000 and 2011, the poor population in suburbs grew by 64% — more than twice the rate of growth in cities (29%). By 2011, almost 16.4 million residents in suburbia lived below the poverty line, outstripping the poor population in cities by almost 3 million people. These are some of the grim findings of ‘Confronting Suburban Poverty in America’, a report by the Brookings Institution, and the implications of this report and its contents are that much more significant for Brookings is conservative in its outlook and advocacy. via
posted by infini (58 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite

 
Jesus, these poor people, I tell ya. You price them out of their homes in the suburbs and they move to the cities. You gentrify the cities they move to the suburbs. There's just no getting rid of the little vermin.
posted by ishrinkmajeans at 12:28 PM on May 29, 2013 [8 favorites]


Thanks for the post, infini. I couldn't view the video or audio content, but the main site links to the webpage for the book, which has more information that can be downloaded in a 2.3mb "Action Toolkit" ZIP file of PDFs.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:33 PM on May 29, 2013 [2 favorites]




I already see crushing suburban poverty. (It became very bad during Hurricane Sandy. In nearby communities, the suburban poor guarded their houses while neighbors looted each other.) I hope someone figures out a way to change the status quo, because we're going down a very scary path.

That said: there's been a lot of talk about the poor/poverty on Metafilter over the past few days. I'm just calculating the time it takes for this thread to explode. *passes the popcorn*
posted by orangutan at 12:37 PM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Jesus, these poor people, I tell ya. You price them out of their homes in the suburbs and they move to the cities. You gentrify the cities they move to the suburbs. There's just no getting rid of the little vermin.

I know this is meant in jest, but it's worth noting that an awful lot of the newfound suburban poverty is not poor people moving to the suburbs - it's the economic downturn wrecking havoc on "stable," formerly-middle-class folks who've always lived in the suburbs with their 2.5 kids and 401k, until the layoffs came a-knocking.
posted by Tomorrowful at 12:41 PM on May 29, 2013 [14 favorites]


OK: this thread is about to be inundated with a stream of "Oh BOO HOO poor little WHITE PEOPLE in the SUBURBS why don't you try living on an INDIAN RESERVATION for a few CENTURIES." etc. etc. That's fine but it ignores the big picture here.

The United States is in the process of being fully Financialized. Basically, we are heading for a future where almost all economic activity of any significance takes place between members of the top 1% of society. The top 1% already account for roughly 40% of all US wealth and that share is growing daily. Hourly, probably.

The spread of poverty into previously unheard-of areas (white suburbia) is causing alarm (as infini notes) even among traditionally conservative think-tanks. There is reason for this: traditional American conservatism requires, to some extent, a functioning middle-class. Or at least people who see themselves and functionally middle-class. Abject poverty is actually quite corrosive to what we could consider "traditional values": bourgeoisie Protestant Christianity, two-parent households, land ownership, personal responsibility, entrepreneurship, etc. It's not that poor people reject such ideas per se -- but merely that such "traditional" modes of living become untenable as people approach subsistence living (You may recall that Medieval serfs and Western settlers were not exactly exemplars of Traditional Family Values).

So the problem is that we are a massive consumerist society where consumers no longer have any money to consume with. This is causing a massive, bleeding hemorrhage of the middle-class, which in turn is corroding whatever remains of the 20th century American dream -- which the Brookings Institution is trying to preserve.

We are getting to the point where there is -- in the distance, on the far horizon -- a conservative argument for redistribution of wealth taking shape. That is how dire our situation is. Capitalism has run so far amok that it now threatens the foundation of the traditionalist, bourgeoisie society which created it.

That is basically the unspoken genesis of this Brookings project.
posted by Avenger at 12:48 PM on May 29, 2013 [119 favorites]


Tomorrowful, I wonder what role the unrealistic home loans played in getting people into the suburbs who couldn't afford those homes, or if it was more a case of people moving out of suburban apartment complexes into suburban single family homes.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:48 PM on May 29, 2013


Sure. I was kidding and I know that.

I want to mention that I said in a previous thread that relative inequality leads to absolute inequality where technological and capital growth doesn't lead to supply growth.

Land is a primary example - it is very hard to increase the livable population density of an area. There are not a few modern skyscrapers that were built at the top of economic bubbles and subsequently bankrupted their firms.

Where people are relatively poor the rich will bid up land and drive the poor out no matter how wealthy we become. This is a failure of capitalism when judged on the basis of aggregate social utility. Cities are popular with the novou rich so they bid out the poors. As far as suburban poverty in the case of the financial crisis is concerned that is a different mechanism leading to the same effect.
posted by ishrinkmajeans at 12:51 PM on May 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


One paycheque away from failing to meet basic needs is not middle class.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 12:52 PM on May 29, 2013 [13 favorites]


I'm pleasantly surprised that this comes from a conservative think tank and that their remedies do not include bootstrapiness or increased religiosity.
posted by Renoroc at 12:54 PM on May 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Capitalism has run so far amok that it now threatens the foundation of the traditionalist, bourgeoisie society which created it.

Capitalism is not concerned with the social problems it creates; the philosophy is Growth, so long as profit exceeds cost. The problem (in my opinion) is that the cost of undoing regulation became less than the profit involved in undoing regulation.

Unregulated growth goes by another name: cancer.
posted by Mooski at 12:54 PM on May 29, 2013 [14 favorites]


One paycheque away from failing to meet basic needs is not middle class.

Not that I disagree with you, but I don't think there are many middle class people that can survive the loss of a paycheque.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:55 PM on May 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


If basic needs include healthcare then by your definition none of us are middle class.
posted by ishrinkmajeans at 12:55 PM on May 29, 2013 [12 favorites]


Wait, what? Brookings is not a conservative think thank at all. If anything, it's American center-left.
posted by General Malaise at 12:58 PM on May 29, 2013 [9 favorites]


Looking at the case studies, it seems like there are a lot of different issues and causes for these different communities, but one constant: the suburbs are not designed to have the level of support resources or community planning that low-income, insecure populations are going to require. And of course they weren't; they were created to separate the residences of the independant from the engine that powers their prosperity.

I can only imagine that the greying of the population in certain areas is going to exacerbate this. The older among us need more services, just as the less well off do.

It's a bit grotesque that the better-off are perhaps unwittingly forcing the poor to take the flip side of their sensible decision that dense urban environments are the place to be in the 21st century.
posted by selfnoise at 12:59 PM on May 29, 2013


It could well be that the 1% have decided that they have enough capital amongst themselves that they are the only economy that matters.

So if, in their analysis, the rest of us are about as significant to the plutocrats as wolves baying futilely at the farmer's stockade, what then for us to do?
posted by seanmpuckett at 1:00 PM on May 29, 2013


Wait, what? Brookings is not a conservative think thank at all. If anything, it's American center-left.
posted by General Malaise at 12:58 PM on May 29 [+] [!]


I'd argue that Brookings is a center-right think-tank that is primarily concerned with the survival of a small "c" conservative view of American society and civilization. I think their reports reflect that and I'm willing to stand by that analysis.
posted by Avenger at 1:00 PM on May 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


The report mentions Montgomery County, MD, which is right next to where I've worked or lived for a very long time. It's really fucking hard to be poor in a suburb (well, it's hard to be poor anywhere). The only logical way to navigate a suburb in many cases is a car. A car is expensive. MoCo (as it's known) is maybe better than some, in the way that it has an OK public transit system, but relying on public transit takes a lot of time. You have to get on a bus an additional hour (at least) to get where you'd go in a car.

Even if you're not spending X on a car, it's still really expensive to take public transit so you're probably spending a little bit under X each month anyway, and you're also losing the less tangible things, like time to spend doing homework with your kid, or extra energy that you've lost because you've been commuting for 4 hours each day.

It's especially jarring when you're in one of the more obviously poor suburbs in MoCo (or the neighboring county, Prince George's) and you can literally see where the managers, bankers, IT professionals, and policy makers live, go a few miles and see where their maids and service workers live.
posted by codacorolla at 1:03 PM on May 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


Unregulated growth goes by another name: cancer.

I'm not sure suburbs and exurbs are the result of unregulated growth. There are plenty of examples where the 'urbs are the result of over-regulated growth, primarily in urban areas, as various interests change land development policy via political means. This creates a dynamic where land is made scarce as a matter of law, and expansion has to move outward.
posted by 2N2222 at 1:05 PM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I hate it when a summary alienates me in its first two lines:

In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a war on poverty. Back then poverty was largely confined to inner-city neighborhoods and isolated rural areas.

Poverty was not confined to inner city and isolated rural areas. There was/is a lot of small town poverty, poverty among the elderly, the dispossessed, migrant workers (rural but not confined to specific places). I imagine even then a fair bit could be found in a number of suburbs. There have always been upscale suburbs and those on the lower scale.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 1:06 PM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can only imagine that the greying of the population in certain areas is going to exacerbate this. The older among us need more services, just as the less well off do.

It's been an issue for a while in rural communities. I attended a conference a few years back, where someone from Kern County was talking about their issues getting services to the rural rancher widows, women who never drove because their husbands did. These ladies lived far from any community center with services, so Kern County officials had to figure out how to best serve these individuals who scattered throughout the rural portions of the county.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:10 PM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I volunteer at and serve on the board of a non-profit that serves an impoverished suburban area. The area is in an 'inner ring' suburb, full of aging housing stock. This area had been housing for neighboring industrial areas, industries that are long gone. The poverty is crushing, just as it is in any inner city, the problems are the same but the perception is different.

At our last board meeting both our director and one of the other board members that is very involved in funding issues spoke about being turned down for grants and then seeing the same funding body give funds to a similiar organization within the city of Chicago, a couple of miles east. We wonder if the perception to outsiders is that as a suburban community group serving children, we can't possibly be as deserving as groups that serve inner city children. When I saw this study I sent it on to other people within the organization to see if there's any way we can incorpaorate this information in to our 'asks'.

Anyway, no surprise here.
posted by readery at 1:12 PM on May 29, 2013 [7 favorites]


The report mentions Montgomery County, MD, which is right next to where I've worked or lived for a very long time. It's really fucking hard to be poor in a suburb (well, it's hard to be poor anywhere). The only logical way to navigate a suburb in many cases is a car. A car is expensive.

This is worth underlying. Decent mass transit makes a huge difference. Well-off people in my area like to kvetch about the bus service being "sucky" but they have no idea how much of a difference just the service that we do have makes. People who are working hard to keep their head above water really do rely on it.
posted by selfnoise at 1:17 PM on May 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm sorry to harp on this, but this is the third sentence:

Today, the overwhelming majority of America’s poor live not in cities—but in the suburbs of its major metropolitan areas.

No. That's not what they say. They say that suburban poor outnumber urban poor (16.4 million versus 13.4 million) but that doesn't become the overwhelming majority of the poor. It's still a plurality when you factor in other areas.

And from the infographic. I'm not sure what point they are trying to make regarding some of what they present.

Among "Drivers of Suburban Poverty" they point out that the percentage of foreign born/immigrants in the suburbs in 2000 is 20.6% and 20.3% in 2010. For the unemployment in the suburbs they use figures from 2007 and compare those to 2010 which exaggerates the effect (2010 being the recent peak in unemployment).

I'm reviewing a dissertation. These are the sort of things that rankle me right now.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 1:18 PM on May 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'd argue that Brookings is a center-right think-tank that is primarily concerned with the survival of a small "c" conservative view of American society and civilization. I think their reports reflect that and I'm willing to stand by that analysis.

In other words, "I like Ike!"
posted by KokuRyu at 1:23 PM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Small c, KokuRyu. i like ike.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 1:25 PM on May 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Let's also not forget that immigrant (and ethnic) communities are increasingly based in the suburbs rather than in cities. It seems weird that Brookings don't seem to be mentioning this directly anywhere, since the potential for ghettoization seems incredibly high.

(On the flipside, I don't think that there's anything wrong with acknowledging that first-generation immigrants are going to have less money. The more important thing to consider is whether or not they and their children have any social mobility.)

Also, let's not forget that suburbs generally do a poor job funding social services. That's why we (DC) end up with all of our region's poor and homeless. DC doesn't have a poverty problem; the DC area has a poverty problem, and only contains one jurisdiction that takes it somewhat seriously.
posted by schmod at 1:33 PM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think their reports reflect that and I'm willing to stand by that analysis.

Perhaps from a fully progressive viewpoint, but the consensus worldview is that Brookings is centrist to center-left. I think it does a disservice to claim that this is some sort of groundbreaking report from "the other guys", when it's in no way an actual break from what they've produced before.

It would probably be most accurate to say that Brookings has supported the Washington consensus on foreign policy and a generally bipartisan approach to social welfare, which is to say that before the Tea Party came along, they spoke for a majority of politicians in D.C. In the marketplace of ideas of Very Serious Persons, they are pretty close to the bright edge of what is allowable in American discourse, a bright edge that is not enforced on the right, only on the left. That's more of an American politics problem than a judgement on Brookings.
posted by dhartung at 1:49 PM on May 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


In other words, "I like Ike!"

It's a research institute. They're definitely on the Adlai Stevenson side of things.
posted by ocschwar at 1:58 PM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Small c, KokuRyu. i like ike.

Adopting the policies of 1950's Republicans (with the exception of rolling over banana republics) would be a good start.

I have no problems identifying as a small "c" conservative.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:58 PM on May 29, 2013 [8 favorites]


I think it does a disservice to claim that this is some sort of groundbreaking report from "the other guys", when it's in no way an actual break from what they've produced before.

*cough* I should mention that the blog author is actual a research policy analyst in India. I guess the framing might be from wholly different perspective altogether. Refresh assumptions time, I guess, underpinning the frame of reference.

tl;dr consider the source.
posted by infini at 2:01 PM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


codacorolla: "It's especially jarring when you're in one of the more obviously poor suburbs in MoCo (or the neighboring county, Prince George's) and you can literally see where the managers, bankers, IT professionals, and policy makers live, go a few miles and see where their maids and service workers live."

Depends on where you go. While the DC area's median income is quite high, most of that is due to the large percentage of highly-educated white collar workers. These families might have incomes in the low 6-figures, but they probably also don't have maids. Most of MoCo's wealth comes from the middle, not the top.

As a whole, I'd say that the DC area has far less "extreme" wealth than most other US metro areas.

That said, I'll never understand why Brookings chose Montgomery County as their example of suburban poverty instead of Prince George's County. Even Fairfax County would have made a more interesting case study.
posted by schmod at 2:01 PM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


tl;dr consider the source.

Three sentences is not in tl;dr territory. At least, I hope not.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 2:12 PM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


One paycheque away from failing to meet basic needs is not middle class.
If basic needs include healthcare then by your definition none of us are middle class.

That's exactly what I'm saying.

Not that I disagree with you, but I don't think there are many middle class people that can survive the loss of a paycheque.

Being middle class includes having enough savings to get through moderately serious crises without going under. It includes not being highly dependent on your current job. The people you are describing as middle class may think of themselves as middle class but they are not.

Part of the reason why the class war's gotten so dire in the US is that people have a hard time admitting to themselves that unlike their parents they are not middle class.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 2:20 PM on May 29, 2013 [11 favorites]


People live in cities. they begin to do ok, financially, want to raise kids in decent school system, so move to suburbs. Big recession and unemployment. People lose jobs, homes, are now among the poor. The burbs truly represents the middle class in America and it is "downsizing."
posted by Postroad at 2:24 PM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hasn't all the population growth been in the suburbs? I mean, Chicago has had 3 million people, more or less, my whole life, but the metro area has about doubled in population. I would imagine that out of 3 million city people and 9 million suburban people that there would be more poor people in the suburbs. The fact that poverty ISN'T spread mostly evenly is the problem, I think. That shows structural problems (of some kind or another) instead of just random bad luck.

What do they say about poverty rates? I bet that's more flat than they make it out to be.
posted by gjc at 2:25 PM on May 29, 2013


this is really, really interesting. I've been reading a lot of papers and articles wondering about why the young middle class families aren't moving out to the suburbs like they used to. This points to good reasons. Less access to services and transportation as the families actually need more access is a basic reason, but the suburbs as a consequence losing value and becoming slums are elements in a negative spiral.
posted by mumimor at 2:34 PM on May 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


By the way, the case studies here are really interesting. This is an excellent post, at least to me.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:37 PM on May 29, 2013




Another factor is planned poverty. I had a job way out in the burbs 25 years ago and a lot of young people I worked with that lived out there had apartments in a complex that even to my inexperienced eyes was incredibly shoddily built. Next to this very large crappy apartment complex was an equally crappy townhome complex. When they were new and shiny there was a rash of burglaries because the ceilings were nothing but wallboard and could easily be accessed through common attic space. The buildings looked worse for wear within five years. within ten years no one but the desperate moved in.

I made my own little case study of the area and any time I've been out that way I take a drive through to see how things are. Things are bad, it doesn't look like a place anyone would move into if they had any choice. At the time I heard stories about local government in the brand new suburb looking the other way when the big builder was throwing money around and little attention was paid to code violations. This is just to say, not all suburban living is single family homes.
posted by readery at 2:52 PM on May 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


So housing prices are skyrocketing again in many metro areas---and that includes prices in the suburbs. So who is buying these houses? Is it mostly investors looking to flip? Are we back on that disastrous path again? Or is it middle/upper middle class families back on the house buying bandwagon? The stock market is hitting new record highs, consumer confidence is spiking, and the real estate rush is on. But yet, poverty is increasing especially in the suburbs. It is all very confusing and disturbing. I guess we are un-mixing economically like oil and water.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 3:45 PM on May 29, 2013


It's important to note that the rate of poverty in urban areas is still higher than in suburban areas. When I read something on this at first I kind of jumped to the conclusion that this was no longer true but upon reading further I realized my mistake. I only mention this in case others make the same faulty assumption.
posted by Defenestrator at 4:09 PM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Seymour Zamboni, I don't have a cite for this but I heard a news story on NPR saying that nationally home ownership rates still dropped last year even as prices were recovering. So apparently investors are in fact buying a lot of homes.

(Someone please correct me if I'm wrong.)
posted by gerstle at 4:23 PM on May 29, 2013


Prices are recovering, it's just some homes are nearly permanently off the market.
posted by mikeh at 4:43 PM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


There is a bit of a problem at the low end of foreclosed homes/condos. Banks won't give a mortgage for a $25,000 condo, so anyone that wants to start small can't. So they either have to save their money and pay cash, or buy something bigger and risk a higher payment, or an investor will buy the property and rent it out.

It would have been far worse if the banks hadn't sat on a lot of the properties for a while, because a lot of inventory hitting a depressed market makes prices even worse.
posted by gjc at 5:26 PM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


yup, readery - I see that all the time, and have an expression I use for it:
"The slums of tomorrow, today!"

The Seattle 'burbs have seen the population of poor grow explosively in the last 20 years. Especially in Bellevue, which is generally seen as white-bread, middle-class blah-ness. Immigrants and apartments (for nearby tech firms) sealed that deal.
The biggest issue, as someone upthread noted, is transportation - cul-de-sacs don't lend themselves to getting about car-less.
posted by dbmcd at 6:26 PM on May 29, 2013


The East Contra Costa section is where I live. Crime has gone through the roof. The city is turned into a hell hole. We have more section 8 housing that any area community, and it's more than the area can absorb. It's also widely abused.

Interestingly enough, the photos in the linked story show an area where a few years ago houses were selling for $800,000. There's a ton of foreclosed houses, and a lot of crime in that area.

But the poverty is on the other side of the freeway where, at the middle school almost everyone is on the free lunch program, a good indicator of the poverty.
posted by cccorlew at 8:36 PM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yes, I have read elsewhere that Section 8 applicants are being relocated to exurbs like East Contra County at the same time formerly "dead zone" areas of Oakland, thanks to thousands of posh new condos, have turned trendy and glitzy. From the article: [Exurb] Owners began seeking out stable rental income, in some cases from lower-income households using housing choice vouchers.

First time I've heard section 8 called "housing choice vouchers". And that sentence makes it sound like the section 8'ers were pulled, not pushed.
posted by telstar at 12:15 AM on May 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Who is buying up all these houses? Is there any restriction on whether house buyers must be citizens or residents?
posted by infini at 12:54 AM on May 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


infini, in the US some states have restrictions on foreign property purchases, such as the total amount any investor may own. This mainly applies, as you can imagine, to agriculture and mining concerns in simple acreage terms.

But really, while investors (with cash, not credit) are a big part of the market -- which is smart seeing as how many people will be excluded from the homeownership game for years to come -- there is still just a lot of shadow inventory out there, homes that are foreclosed or even whose foreclosure was dropped but the owners abandoned, and in some parts of the country this is a very serious problem. I live in a small midwestern city more affected by the (infamous) closure of our GM plant than the housing crisis per se (we don't have massive, overbuilt, empty subs, just a lot of unsold lots), and we have both shadow inventory and distress sales and so forth, with investors snapping up what families can't.
posted by dhartung at 2:27 AM on May 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Didn't something similar happen in Canada in the late 1980s or thereabouts? I recall hearing news of someone who was a real estate person with an "in" with the banks holding foreclosed mortgages picking up around 50 such properties and now lives off the rentals to fresh immigrants and new families.


i hate to use the word slum lord since those aren't actually slums, per se.
posted by infini at 2:40 AM on May 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


The re-gentrification of the older urban cores is pushing poor people out of neighborhoods they can no longer afford, as cities move towards the new "smart, compact" model where downtown workers are encouraged to move in toward downtown- either into newly - constructed high-rises, or into quaint, restored bungalows. Inner- city rents, prices and property taxes soar, and the formerly urban poor are making a slow exodus into the decaying and shoddily built suburban starter-housing stock of the 60's, 70's & 80's because it's what they can afford.

In Austin, the developers have finally moved in earnest into the last close-in working-class neighborhood known as East Riverside, and are currently gutting it.

The compact urban core is a good idea of itself, cutting down on highway congestion, pollution, etc, but has consequences. Poor people still have to live somewhere, and they're being forced into a worse environment. Less walkable, fewer amenities, and if you thought commuting was bad in your '96 Volvo, imagine how it's going in that unreliable '82 Impala, or with no car at all.
posted by Devils Rancher at 3:24 AM on May 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


Yeah that's a key concern I keep raising with our city staff as Kitchener undergoes a rather astonishing industrial->technology quickchange. With people making $20K on the outs and people making $100K moving in, they're building stupid condos as fast as they possibly can. But where are the people who serve the coffee, sweep the floors, sell the donuts live?

Fortunately everyone I do talk to is really aware of the issue in their "whole city" planning. But zoning and development processes made for 50 years ago are really challenging us today. And the people who actually put the shovels in the ground want to max out their investments -- build $400K condos, or $500/Mo apartments?

My hope, I guess, is that someone takes up the "micro-studio" model for some floors of their developments. Where there's a place for people who don't earn much. And the returns are still pretty good since density is quite high.
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:33 AM on May 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


seanmpuckett: "My hope, I guess, is that someone takes up the "micro-studio" model for some floors of their developments. Where there's a place for people who don't earn much. And the returns are still pretty good since density is quite high."

The few "micro studios" that have come onto the market seem almost as expensive as their full-sized counterparts. They seem to be more of a fashion statement instead of being actually frugal. They're not even remotely affordable.

It's much cheaper to cram more people into a larger dwelling, and split the rent. Even many urban white-collar professionals can't afford to live in private dwellings any more. I make a pretty decent living, and the notion of being able to rent my own apartment isn't even on my radar. I can't even imagine what poor people are doing; even the "cheap place in a bad neighborhood" is becoming a myth at this point.
posted by schmod at 6:32 AM on May 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


My hope, I guess, is that someone takes up the "micro-studio" model for some floors of their developments. Where there's a place for people who don't earn much. And the returns are still pretty good since density is quite high.

Southern Californian architect Teddy Cruz is doing some groundbreaking work in this area.
posted by infini at 8:06 AM on May 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Devils Rancher, that's what I came in here to talk about.

Poverty in the suburbs of Phoenix, Arizona rose by 134.2%; Las Vegas, Nevada by 139.3%; Austin, Texas by 142.5%; and Atlanta, Georgia by 158.9%.

That combined with this, the median cost of rent per bedroom in Austin, is staggering. I am very lucky to live with friends in a stable housing situation, but my beau is going to lose his rental in November (the property he rents was bought by real estate investors) and it's frightening to think there may just not be anywhere he can afford.
posted by fiercecupcake at 12:54 PM on May 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was pretty happy with my room in an old former college rooming house. It was fairly big, and had cable and Internet. The only downside was a bagger housemate, and one who relapsed on drugs at one point.
It got sold to some flippers. They offered to rent to us for $100 more a month. I could not afford to take that deal. I already had applied for HUD housing for older and disabled people.
It's not perfect, but it is a lot cheaper even than my rooming house situation. Bonus points, my bath is NOT encrusted with black mold.
We have a LOT of downright slummy housing in my area, and a lot of gangs and crimes.
This area was nice 25 years ago, but it really isn't at this point.
Around here the suburbs have no side-walks, or the sidewalk is on the other side of the street, not usually the side I need. Poor or not-so-poor have a habit of keeping dogs to guard their property.
Vicious escape-artist dogs are common where I live and I am damn sick of them.
Well cared for but equally vicious dogs liv in our pathetic excuses for suburbs.
Poverty here is SEEN as a race thing, but really it is not.
The consequences of the housing bubble hasn't been all bad. My daughter and son-in-law picked up a nice place that had been fore-closed and vacant.
Me, I don't have kids any more. The further out me and Mr. Roquette are, basically the worse for us. Neither of us drives. Even if we physically could drive, we can't afford a decent vehicle or insurance.
Our town just bought 75 cop-cars. Budget cuts got rid of our favorite bus runs, also shortened service hours and got rid of holiday service.
there are consequences when people can't get around.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 7:11 PM on May 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yes, Katjusa, why is it that bus cuts come in a downturn, just when more of the population might ride? I suspect car dealerships in cahoots with predatory lenders are behind it.
posted by telstar at 9:05 PM on May 30, 2013


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