More residents in poverty in Twin Cities suburbs

Published 2:52 pm Saturday, July 18, 2015

ST. PAUL — A new report by the Metropolitan Council says more residents are living in poverty in metro-area suburbs than in the inner cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, putting a strain on communities that are now struggling to maintain housing, build transportation infrastructure and provide social services that poor residents need.

More than 385,000 people live in poverty in the suburbs and rural areas across the seven-county metro, compared with 259,000 in Minneapolis and St. Paul combined. The report defines poverty as 185 percent of the federal poverty line, which is about $44,000 a year for a family of four.

Maplewood Mayor Nora Slawik said the increased poverty can be seen on her city’s north side, and that the community is trying to keep property values up by creating a pool of money that residents can access for home repairs.

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“Our housing stock is getting older, and people are having trouble keeping up with payments, which cause some of the foreclosure issues,” Slawik said. “We also have some issues with rehabbing.”

She also supports more transportation infrastructure that poor residents rely on to get to work. One proposal includes a possible bus rapid transit line from downtown St. Paul to Woodbury and Lake Elmo.