Its hardly a surprise that poverty exists in the suburbs just as it does in urban and rural areas. But the 40 percent growth in poverty in the suburbs of North Carolina over the last decade is a gut check. It is one more indicator of the deep reach of the recessions impact on people who traditionally fare better.
According to a report last week from the Budget and Tax Center, a project of the North Carolina Justice Center, the Great Recession pushed nearly 670,000 North Carolinians into poverty between 2000 and 2010, and suburban areas were particularly hard hit. The poor population grew 13 times more in the suburbs than in urban areas. By 2010, the poverty rate in the suburbs was 13.2 percent.
The report says the suburban poverty jump is also reflective of poor people moving out of the center cities where housing costs have risen because of their attractiveness to more affluent house buyers. Increasingly, the older inner-ring suburbs are becoming more affordable than many center city neighborhoods.
The authors highlight the challenges the trends pose: De-centralized affordable housing is becoming a more urgent need as is ensuring access for the poor to social services, transportation and education and health facilities. Policy makers will need to effectively address those issues.
But as important, the trends challenge our thinking about who the poor are. With the recession costing many who are middle-class their jobs and suburban homes, the poor have faces more of us recognize. They are our friends, co-workers and family. That should give all of us another prod to tackle the problems the poor face.
After a record year of pedestrian fatalities and an Observer analysis that found an increase in pedestrian-related crashes in recent years Charlotte-Mecklenburg police have embarked on a three-week campaign of ticketing jaywalkers and unlawful drivers at uptown intersections. But in the wake of recent data showing a 4 percent increase pedestrian deaths across the country, a Washington Post editorial suggested this week that cities go one step further: ticket distracted walkers.
You know who you are the pedestrians who walk hunched over your mobile device, sometimes right into a busy intersection. The Post says rightly that distracted walkers are dangerous, too, and it suggests fining pedestrians for wearing headphones or using mobile devices in busy urban intersections or public transportation transfer areas.
Officials should also consider measures that would require pedestrians to pay more attention to their surroundings, the editorial board wrote. If distracted driving is an issue worth addressing, so is distracted walking.
A handful of states have proposed such bills, but none have passed. As annoyed as we get by walkers on crowded sidewalks with eyes on smartphones, not surroundings, were not ready to ticket them for doing so in intersections. Were satisfied that Charlotte police say they will ticket pedestrians who just walk nonchalantly in front of vehicle, and we urge that everyone for the sake of everyone else pry yourself from your screens when youre walking or driving on Charlottes roads.
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