Report Shows that DC's Suburbs are Getting Poorer

  • January 20th 2010

by Will Smith

Suburbs across America are getting poorer, according to a report published today by The Brookings Institution, and that includes some of the areas surrounding DC.

The report stated that the poor in the nation’s leading metropolitan areas grew 25 percent between 2000 and 2008. That increase outpaced growth of the poor in the cities themselves, in smaller cities, and in rural areas.

Report Shows that DC's Suburbs are Getting Poorer: Figure 1

“By 2008 large suburbs were home to 1.5 million more poor than their primary cities and housed almost one-third of the nation’s poor overall,” quotes The Wall Street Journal in its coverage of the report. This is particularly striking given that it doesn’t include 2009, when the recession really started taking a toll.

The report’s findings recall a widely-read piece in The Atlantic from March 2008. In The Next Slum? author Christopher Leinberger wonders whether the gentrification of America’s cities will be followed by the impoverishment of its suburbs. From the article:

For 60 years, Americans have pushed steadily into the suburbs, transforming the landscape and (until recently) leaving cities behind. But today the pendulum is swinging back toward urban living, and there are many reasons to believe this swing will continue. As it does, many low-density suburbs and McMansion subdivisions, including some that are lovely and affluent today, may become what inner cities became in the 1960s and ’70s—slums characterized by poverty, crime, and decay.

The DC metropolitan area could serve as Exhibit A of Leinberger’s argument. Readers of UrbanTurf know well that one-time rough and downtrodden neighborhoods in DC proper such as Logan Circle, Columbia Heights, and U Street are today among the region’s most robust real estate markets. Meanwhile, the exurban markets of Prince William and Loudoun Counties in Virginia were hammered by foreclosures in 2007 and 2008 (though they have now stabilized). Prince George’s County in Maryland was just predicted to be the 12th worst housing market in 2010.

The Brookings report had this to say about the DC metropolitan area:

In 2008, 32.5 percent of poor individuals across the metro area lived in the primary city compared to 67.5 percent in the suburbs. Compared to 2000, this is a significant increase in the suburban share of the metro area’s poor.

What do you think? Will the farther-out areas of Virginia and Maryland see a decline over the next few decades? Let us know your predictions in the comments.

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/report_shows_that_Americas_suburbs_are_getting_poorer/1697.

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