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Data Show Poverty Has Swollen More Outside The Perimeter

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The ATL has taken lumps aplenty this year on the subject of poverty. And the Atlanta Regional Commission — the agency that, in February, found Atlanta now leads the nation in suburban poverty growth — is calling for a (gasp!) regional approach to confronting the issue, according to the Saporta Report. It's a complex issue with no panacea, but illustrations might help. The ARC map above shows the rate of change in metro Atlanta's property rate since 2000. It illustrates that OTP areas in DeKalb, Gwinnett and Clayton counties experienced the largest increases in poverty. In the urban core, areas with traditionally high poverty rates showed some of the steepest declines — but could that be because large swaths of the population simply took off? Possibly. Last week, as the Saporta Report notes, MARTA GM Keith Parker said that agency's dip in ridership is tied to the exodus of traditional MARTA riders to the suburbs, where they've fled for affordable housing and jobs, finding other means of transportation.

A book released earlier this year lent credence to the idea that America's suburban utopias are eroding, and it pointed to Atlanta as a prime example. Atlanta ranked fourth — slotted between Colorado Springs (No. 3) and Grand Rapids, Mich. — on a list of cities that saw substantial growth in suburban poverty between 2000 and 2010.

Brookings researcher Elizabeth Kneebone, who co-wrote "Confronting Suburban Poverty in America," attributed the rise to a variety of factors, including increased diversity in America's suburban populations and the gentrification of cities. In reaction to the book, Atlanta magazine provided a local perspective. For decades, many times more people have called suburban Atlanta home than the city itself; but by 2010, 87 percent of the region's poor people lived in the 'burbs. The number of poor in the city has held steady. What gives?

[Above graphic via Atlanta Regional Commission]

· Suburban poverty calls for regional approach; MARTA ridership affected by quest for affordable housing [Saporta Report]
· Experts: Atlanta's A Leader For Suburban Poverty Growth [Curbed Atlanta]
· New York Times: 'So What's The Matter With Atlanta?' [Curbed Atlanta]