Editorial: Inner Suburban Poverty and the Donut Effect

Donut Effect

Urban analyst Aaron Renn has popularized a trend in cities called the “new donut” model. The old donut was symbolized by a downtown core that needed to be revitalized surrounded by a thriving suburban ring. Now there is data to show that with young people moving downtown and revitalized urban cores, the inner suburbs are struggling. Poverty has been pushed out of the urban core.

Denver is a great example of this new donut model. The charts below from the UVA Demographics Research Group show that as you move away from the city center of Denver the education rate drops until mile 7 when it starts to climb again. A high percentage of people ages 22-34 also live close to the city center of Denver.

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The City of Edgewater sits about five miles from the city center of Denver and is part of this inner suburban ring that has been struggling for the last ten to fifteen years. According to data compiled by the American Community Survey from 2007-20011, the poverty rate in Edgewater is 24% and 19% of the residents over 25 have a Bachelor’s Degree or higher. The median household income is $40,734 compared to $56,360 for the Denver metro region. With development from the Highlands pushing across Sheridan, Edgewater home prices are rising. Rents are increasing and families are having to leave Edgewater to find a home they can afford.

As this development continues in Edgewater, it is important for City Council to determine the values that guide development in our city. Do we allow market forces to dictate what our city is known for or do we want to be a community that offers affordable housing?

As this new donut model for pushing poverty out to the suburbs continues to impact the Denver area, it is up to cities within these inner suburbs to own this development challenge.

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