The Dream Revisited
Discussion 21: Suburban Poverty & Segregation

Discussion 21: Suburban Poverty & Segregation

September 2016

The twenty-first discussion explores the increasing diversity of suburbs and increasing levels of suburban poverty and debates the challenges of supporting poor households’ economic self-sufficiency beyond the central city.


  • Segregation, Suburbs, and the Future of Fair Housing

    by Alan Berube

    Though racial segregation persists, most researchers agree that it has declined over the long term due to a number of factors. While suburbanization seems to have contributed at least in part to this decrease in segregation, suburban areas have also experienced higher levels of poverty. Evidence shows that urban challenges for people of color, including economic disadvantage, may be re-concentrating in suburbia. 


  • Delineating Race and Poverty

    by Georgette Phillips

    Decreasing racial segregation and decreasing poverty are important goals; we must not water down our solutions to either by fusing the two. Rather than focus on the decrease of racial segregation that may have occurred due to the suburbanization of poor people, policymakers should instead focus on the increasing economic segregation and poverty of suburban areas. To address this, we must understand how the reification of political boundaries encourages exclusionary zoning that creates barriers to low and moderate income housing.

  • The Changing Geography of Poverty Demands Changes to Safety Net Provision

    by Scott W. Allard

    Regardless of the impact suburbanization has had on racial segregation, we must address the new reliance on a suburban safety net. Unfortunately, this topic is fraught: suburban communities struggle to provide assistance to the poor due to local governments’ prioritization of economic development and residential exclusion over antipoverty assistance.

  • Debtors’ Prisons and Discriminatory Policing: The New Tools of Racial Segregation

    by Thomas B. Harvey

    In St. Louis, black residents experience suburbanization not as an end to segregation, but rather as a new battleground for racial injustice and exclusion. Suburbs’ governmental and legal systems have been designed as fragmented to exclude and limit black residents. With the black population increasing in historically white areas, discriminatory policing and unlawful jailing practices have worked in concert with these systems to perpetuate patterns of segregation. If consolidation of the municipal court system does not occur, black poverty will continue to increase and racial divides will deepen.  

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