Moving to the suburbs used to mean having made it—having earned the house, the car, the lawn—and being set for the long haul. But over the past decades, the suburbs have changed. Dream houses have fallen into disrepair; dream jobs have disappeared. As urban housing costs soared, immigrants with few resources bypassed cities to be closer to suburban jobs, and low-income families moved further out in search of opportunity. Meanwhile, as the economy shuddered, established middle-class suburbanites saw their incomes shrink.
By the mid-2000s, more Americans were living below the poverty line in suburbs than in cities. In the Boston metropolitan area, census data from 2010 showed that more than two-thirds of the region’s poor population was settled in the suburbs.