Facts about Suburban Poverty
The suburbs have become the new frontier of poverty. Minneapolis and St. Paul, encompassing just under 120 square miles, are home to an almost equal number of the poor as the suburbs, which are spread out across more than 2,600 square miles. While just under half of those experiencing poverty, or 129,163, resided in the suburbs in 2010, the number of impoverished suburbanites grew 81% between 1999 and 2010, a rate that far surpassed the 36% increase in poverty that Minneapolis and St. Paul experienced during the same period. Bottom line: Poverty is a reality in the Twin Cities suburbs, and it has grown quickly.
The underlying causes of this statistical shift include a weak economy, employment sprawl, and changes in affordable housing options (Brookings Institute, The Suburbanization of Poverty). A large percentage of the people using food shelves now had never used them before, nor had they ever used any social service. To bring this point home, Eden Prairie experienced a 64% increase in the number of children living in poverty since 2000 (Hennepin South Services Collaborative Study, April 2011). More than 20% of Eden Prairie school children and 11% of Chanhassen children are eligible for free or reduced lunch.
Clients turn to PROP seeking help primarily because of lost wages, unemployment, underemployment, health challenges, and family changes. The common thread among all of our clients is lack of income. Nearly all (97%) of our clients are living below the poverty standard for Minnesota, with household incomes of less than 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or under $47,100 per year for a family of four.