If anyone tells you that people have been moving to the suburbs in the past ten years or so to pursue a life of comfort, ease, and safety you can know for a fact that they are stuck in a 1980s vision of American life.
What has been trending in America in the past 10 years or so is that people are moving to major cities for a life of comfort, ease, convenience, excitement, and the pursuit of the “New Urbanism American Dream” that displaces minorities and the poor to the suburbs as urban market conditions change to meet demand. In fact, according to a Brookings Institute report, by 2008 large suburbs became home to 1.5 million more poor than their primary cities and housed almost one-third of the nation’s poor overall. According to the report, “between 2000 and 2008, suburbs in the country’s metro areas in cities of all sizes saw their poor population grow by 25 percent—almost five times faster than primary cities and well ahead of the growth seen in smaller metro areas and non-metropolitan communities.”
This change is making the suburbs home to a more diverse population in terms of age, ethnicity, household size, and poverty status. Today there is very little difference between racial and cultural diversity in major cities versus the suburbs. We are living in a new era where blacks and Latinos make up a disproportionate share of the poor in both cities and suburbs. To preach against living in the suburbs in 2013 is to preach against opportunities to be in solidarity with those who are suffering.
The suburbanization of racial diversity and poverty cuts across the country. In San Francisco, for example, a UC-Berkeley report explains, “the number of people living in poverty in the Bay Area rose 16 percent in the suburbs, compared with 7 percent in urban areas, this analysis finds. And the greatest percentage of growth in suburban poverty was among blacks and Latinos. The percentage of the poor living in the suburbs has increased across all racial groups, but the change is highest among blacks, increasing by more than 7 percentage points from 2000 to 2009.”