For decades, Americans have associated the suburbs with the “good life.” They have regarded the suburbs as prosperous sanctuaries from the ills that afflict cities and have strived to move to them. The past decade, however, has seen the rapid growth of a suburban reality that challenges this middle-class stereotype: poverty.
Three million more people now live in poverty in the suburbs than live in America’s inner cities, according to “Confronting Suburban Poverty in America,” a book by Elizabeth Kneebone and Alan Berube released this week by the Brookings Institution. This change not only forces us to reconsider our perception of suburban America, but it also leaves anti-poverty programs designed in the 1960s as part of President Lyndon Johnson’s war on poverty ill-suited to dealing with the problem of suburban poverty.
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