EP ranks highest in the nation for suburban poverty

Ashlie Rodriguez, Reporter
POSTED: 10:43 PM MST Mar 07, 2013 
EL PASO, -

El Paso ranks in a new Brookings Institute study as number in the nation as the city with the highest suburban rate. 

Home loans and high gas prices have all risen since the 1950's and 60's, when buying a home in surburia and working in the city was expected. According to a new article and Brookings Institute study, the high cost of living in the suburbs has left 15.4 million Americans and 36% of El Paso in poverty.

"People started to identify with the fact that living in suburban areas added costs they wouldn't face if they lived in the urban core," said  UTEP Professor of Economics Tom Fullerton. 

So they left. Tom Fullerton specializes in metropolitan growth in El Paso. He said this trend wasn't on the radar 15 years ago, but cities across the county are undergoing a renaissance and El Paso is one of them. This trend is bad news for neighborhoods that are quickly losing their tax base.

"And it's showing up not only in terms of the maintenance of the neighborhoods but also in terms of problems with the school districts," Fullerton said. 

People are fleeing far off suburbia and heading toward the Downtown, where they can avoid $4-a-gallon gas, walk to work and network. But as the tax base descends in suburbia, its rising in the city. Fullerton said this means municipal governments will have to money to invest in infrastructure, building up not out and accommodating the new flux of city dwellers.

"This is also a trend that City Hall has been trying to encourage for a couple of years now in terms of not only downtown revitalization but also in terms of urban infill and taking advantage of intact infrastructure and trying to draw people in," Fullerton said. 

Fullerton is guardedly optimistic about the new Triple A baseball stadium that could potentially fill El Paso's vacant buildings and balance out the rising suburban poverty rate. On the other side of the issue people say areas of higher density lead to higher crime.