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Opinion: More Poor In The Suburbs Is Good News For Rahm

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In what has to be great news for Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s re-election prospects, a new study by the Brookings Institutions finds that the number of poor people living in Chicago’s suburbs has increased 99 percent in the past 10 years.

That means they aren’t living in Chicago, where they might be inclined to vote against the mayor in 2015. A Tribune survey conducted earlier this month found that voters earning over $100,000 a year are the only demographic group in which a majority said Emanuel is “in touch with people like you” -- and even that figure was only 55 percent. 
African-Americans, who have a disproportionately high poverty rate, are particularly disenchanted with Emanuel. But that’s exactly the population the city has been offloading to the south suburbs over the past 10 years, as a result of gentrification and destruction of housing projects. Chicago’s black population declined by 200,000 between 2000 and 2010.
 
Here’s a list of suburbs with higher poverty rates than Chicago. They’re all in that region known as “out South.”
 
Robbins -- 37.9 percent
Harvey -- 30.9 percent
Markham -- 24.5 percent
Chicago Heights -- 24.4 percent
Riverdale -- 23 percent
 
 
More poor people moved to the suburbs, pulled by more affordable homes or pushed by urban gentrification, the authors said. Some used the increased mobility of housing vouchers, which used to be restricted by area, to seek better schools and safer neighborhoods in suburbia. Still others, including immigrants, followed jobs as the booming suburbs demanded more workers, many for low-paying, service-sector jobs.
 
Among the communities spotlighted in the book are suburbs in southern Cook County: Blue Island, Dolton, Lansing, Park Forest and South Holland.
 
The poor population in Park Forest has grown by more than 125 percent since 2000, and the poverty rate has jumped from 7 percent to 15 percent, according to the book.   In South Holland, the poor population also more than doubled and the poverty rate jumped from 5 percent to 10 percent.
 
As long as Emanuel is mayor, you can bet that trend will continue.
 

Related Topics Rahm Emanuel
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