As fantastic a place as a city like Springfield can be to live I would not deny that many of the city’s residents are here because they have no other real options. The concentration of government subsidized housing in cities along with the lack of multi-family dwellings anywhere else creates a circumstance wherein nearly all the poor are bunched together here. What that means is that, while cities provide magnificent opportunities for enjoyable experiences, many of the city’s residents have too much in the way of pathologies to deal with to appreciate them.
When I think of my daughters’ friends and their families, a disproportionate amount of the parents are dealing with mental health issues and disabilities and many (parents particularly) speak English only with difficulty. Of the very few who have come from the suburbs to live in the city, they all have had serious issues to overcome and live in the city because the public transit, social services, and health care they need is available here.
What that means is that many, many people who struggle just for survival live in Springfield. Their lives are not miserable because they live in Springfield, but they do live in Springfield because their lives are miserable.
This is where we, my family and I, can make a difference. So many of our neighbors are too busy just surviving to do the work necessary to find out what opportunities are out there for their children, but they can and do learn of things through us. My wife can help to make our neighborhood school more responsive to the needs of our neighbors as PTO president, and as someone who is known by city officials I can lobby for improved city services. What the poor and struggling citizens of the city need is to not be isolated and ghettoized to only living with others who are also poor and struggling while still benefiting from the logistical advantages the city provides. The city not only isn’t the problem, apart from the concentration of poverty, it gives them the best possible opportunity to live the most fulfilling life they can.
Suburbanites treat poverty like society treated lepers in the New Testament; and with about the same level of justification. The maladies of poverty are not highly contagious to most. I’m constantly amazed and angered by the fact that suburbanites give the city so little credit for taking on so many of society’s greatest problems. Instead we are criticized for being dysfunctional, even corrupt. “Yeah. Sorry we take on the issues you avoid, but we fail to meet your expectations in terms of doing so gracefully. Oh, one last thing. Go fuck yourselves.”