menu

Is The Suburb The Next Slum?

Is The Suburb The Next Slum?
Design
Piers Fawkes, PSFK
  • 28 february 2008

There’s interesting thought piece over at Atlantic that wonders if the flight from America’s suburbs and exurbs by folks who can no longer afford the housing (and the gas prices to reach home) will have the similar negative effect as when people fleeing the cities in the sixties and seventies.

In the Franklin Reserve neighborhood of Elk Grove, California, south of Sacramento, the houses are nicer than those at Windy Ridge—many once sold for well over $500,000—but the phenomenon is the same. At the height of the boom, 10,000 new homes were built there in just four years. Now many are empty; renters of dubious character occupy others. Graffiti, broken windows, and other markers of decay have multiplied. Susan McDonald, president of the local residents’ association and an executive at a local bank, told the Associated Press, “There’s been gang activity. Things have really been changing, the last few years.”

In the first half of last year, residential burglaries rose by 35 percent and robberies by 58 percent in suburban Lee County, Florida, where one in four houses stands empty. Charlotte’s crime rates have stayed flat overall in recent years—but from 2003 to 2006, in the 10 suburbs of the city that have experienced the highest foreclosure rates, crime rose 33 percent. Civic organizations in some suburbs have begun to mow the lawns around empty houses to keep up the appearance of stability. Police departments are mapping foreclosures in an effort to identify emerging criminal hot spots.

…The experience of cities during the 1950s through the ’80s suggests that the fate of many single-family homes on the metropolitan fringes will be resale, at rock-bottom prices, to lower-income families—and in all likelihood, eventual conversion to apartments.

He points out that it’s unlikely that suburbs are going to one-day see a return of inhabitants because cities were built to last longer than the average American suburb:

This future is not likely to wear well on suburban housing. Many of the inner-city neighborhoods that began their decline in the 1960s consisted of sturdily built, turn-of-the-century row houses, tough enough to withstand being broken up into apartments, and requiring relatively little upkeep. By comparison, modern suburban houses, even high-end McMansions, are cheaply built. Hollow doors and wallboard are less durable than solid-oak doors and lath-and-plaster walls. The plywood floors that lurk under wood veneers or carpeting tend to break up and warp as the glue that holds the wood together dries out; asphalt-shingle roofs typically need replacing after 10 years. Many recently built houses take what structural integrity they have from drywall—their thin wooden frames are too flimsy to hold the houses up.

As the residents of inner-city neighborhoods did before them, suburban homeowners will surely try to prevent the division of neighborhood houses into rental units, which would herald the arrival of the poor. And many will likely succeed, for a time. But eventually, the owners of these fringe houses will have to sell to someone, and they’re not likely to find many buyers… Much of the future decline is likely to occur on the fringes, in towns far away from the central city, not served by rail transit, and lacking any real core. In other words, some of the worst problems are likely to be seen in some of the country’s more recently developed areas—and not only those inhabited by subprime-mortgage borrowers. Many of these areas will become magnets for poverty, crime, and social dysfunction.

The Atlantic

[via TreeHugger]

Trending

Zagat's Cafe Offers Tiny Replicas Of Classic NYC Dishes

Experiential Marketing
Social Media Today

Your Favorite Tweets Are Now Wearable

This temporary tattoo allows fans to wear their most favorite moments from the social platform

Technology Today

This Mirror Tracks Your Dark Circles And Fine Lines

HiMirror is a device snaps a photo of your face every day to provide feedback on how to care for your skin

Trending

Get PSFK's Related Report: Innovation Debrief: Boston

See All
Sustainability Today

Biodegradable Furniture Made From Pine Needles Could Be The Next Phase Of Sustainable Living

Premiering at Dutch Design Week 2016, the collection fully utilizes an often wasted material

Retail Today

Creative Director: Navigating The New World Of Founder-Brands

Richard Smith, Creative Director at Sullivan, explains how visionaries like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg approach their branding and why it’s important to apply brand thinking to founders’ products

Related Expert

Talmon Marco

VoIP Communication Services

Syndicated Today

Madrid's 'Robin Hood' Cafe Charge The Rich To Feed The Poor

The charity restaurant makes money from customers by day to offer homeless people meals at night

Technology Today

Modular System Lets Musicians Create Their Own MIDI Controllers

Mine is a customizable music-maker that lets people design their most ideal layout

USA Today

Amazon Launches Cashier-Free Store For Ultimate Efficiency

The retailer is looking to make shopping even faster by letting customers instantly pay as they walk out the door

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Retail 2017
Transformation Strategies For Customer-First Business
NEW

PSFK Op-Ed Yesterday

VP: Why Messaging Apps Are Issuing In A New Era Of Commerce

Matt Johnson discusses how mobile messaging commerce is creating a different modality for interaction between retailers and consumers

PSFK Labs december 1, 2016

Retail Spotlight: Home Depot Reimagines How Employees Conduct Tasks

The home improvement retailer puts the customer first by initiating local fulfillment centers and simplifying freight-to-shelf inventory management

Augmented & Virtual Reality Today

Marble-Like Mini-Worlds Invade Miami Art Week And Your Mobile Screen

The gallery world's sphere of influence seems to be expanding into the realm of Pokémon Go—why that's a good thing

Health Today

A 'USB Stick' That Can Detect HIV Levels

The simple device developed at Imperial College London measures viral load in less than 30 minutes

Customer Retention Today

Crafting The Personalized Retail Experience

Marriott International's Christopher Baer shares insights into how the hospitality company is strategizing customer service

Children Today

Experience The White House In Augmented Reality Using A $1 Bill

1600 Pennsylvania Ave. is an AR app designed to help people learn about the history and significance of the United State's capital building

Travel Today

Portable Computer Monitor Opens Up Like An Umbrella For Travelers

This mobile screen and projector means work can go anywhere and still feel like working from home

PSFK EVENT

FUTURE OF RETAIL 2017:
Conference Built Around Report Launch
BUY TICKETS

Food Today

Starbucks Is Selling An Automated Temperature-Setting Mug

For those looking to keep their coffee hot on their winter commutes, the coffee chain has created a device that keeps beverages exactly at their desire temperature

Mobile Today

This Piece Of Plastic Is Designed To Curb Phone Addiction

The NoPhone Air from New York agency Barton F. Grafis is actually no phone at all

Retail Yesterday

Store Technology Expert: Why Retailers Must Invest In Store Associates

Jan Kotowski, Head of Product at Tulip Retail, shares his thoughts on how retailers should be preparing for the future

No search results found.