Understanding Suburban Poverty

Historically, poverty has been framed as linked to the conditions in urban and rural environments. Beginning in 2000, there was an explosion of suburban poverty. As noted by the Public Policy Institute of California, despite improvements, the rate of poverty remains high:  https://www.ppic.org/publication/poverty-in-california.  As the cost of housing continues to sore, the economic impact of COVID-19 has created increased instability for individuals and families. https://projects.sfchronicle.com/projects/sf-homeless/homeless-suburbs/ 


Safety net services, funding, and philanthropy are still heavily concentrated in urban environments. This is true for the Eastern-most section of Alameda County, the Tri-Valley cities of Dublin, Livermore, and Pleasanton. Physical isolation can compound the issues of poverty, and transportation is often cited as a significant burden, not only in accessing services but also in accessing employment.


Suburban schools are increasingly faced with challenges outside of the traditional education model, such as providing students and their families with meals, clothing, extra support with academics, counseling, and health services.


The average price of homes in the Tri-Valley makes home ownership impossible for low and middle-income residents. In Livermore, the average home sold for $686,000 in 2016 and for $950,500 in Pleasanton. Apartment rentals are not more affordable. Rentals in these cities averaged $3,000 to $3700.

Suburban Poverty Infographic

Suburban Poverty Infographic

Courtesy of Brookings Institution