Problems associated with poverty, unemployment and foreclosure – typically associated with inner cities – are migrating into distressed, older suburbs throughout the country. The Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University is studying the new realities of these suburbs and exploring opportunities to improve their living conditions.
A new report, prepared for the national Urban Institute's What Works Collaborative, identifies the 168 most-distressed suburbs in the United States and provides in-depth case studies of four: East Cleveland, Ohio, and Inkster, Mich., in declining economic regions; and Chester, Pa., and Prichard, Al., located in growing economic regions.
Using census data, literature review, fiscal analysis and the four in-depth case studies, the authors provide a detailed portrait of the underlying forces shaping distressed suburbs and highlight a range of best practices.
East Cleveland, for example, was one of the first and one of the most prestigious suburbs of Cleveland. Today, most of its tax-generating industries are gone; large pockets of housing stock are substandard, abandoned and vandalized; and the school system earns a low grade in the state ranking system. Of its nearly 18,000 residents, 37 percent had incomes below the federal poverty level in 2010. But the authors point to signs of hope, such as the city's leaders working to restore trust and reaching out to neighboring communities to in revitalization efforts. Regional agreements regarding water and sewer systems are underway, and other service delivery options are under discussion.
"We hope that understanding what does and does not work in these four case study cities will help inform the federal policy discussion about how best to position distressed suburbs for the future," said Kathryn Wertheim Hexter, director of Levin College's Center for Community Planning and Development and project manager.
The report may be found at http://www.urban.org/publications/412461.html.
For more information: Kathryn Wertheim Hexter, 216-687-6941, email@example.com
The Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University prepares students to change America's cities and provides reliable research on vital issues facing urban America. www.urban.csuohio.edu