Could Escaping City-Life Be the Answer?

Reading Analysis 3

In chapter 5 of David Fleming’s City of Rhetoric, he explains that the solution to Chicago’s unequal housing epidemic is the migration to suburbs. He explains that suburbs have newer housing and the housing markets are more stable, with lower turnover rates. Also, suburbs typically have a smaller range of income inequality in comparison to cities. Fleming explores the idealistic suburban community as one with a responsive local government, well maintained streets and highways, unlimited land, and good schools. He lists and describes six different types of suburban communities in the United States: at-risk segregated suburbs, at-risk older communities, at-risk low-density satellite communities, bedroom-developing communities, and high-end housing communities that are either affluent or very affluent. In other words, not all suburbs are the perfect place for people that are oppressed in city housing. Typically, the economy of the suburb has some relationship to the larger city within proximity. For example, Yonkers, just outside of Manhattan, is infiltrated with minority families but there is an extremely low tax capacity. This ultimately puts the community in a negative position. How can the city generate more money if the residents are simply not able to afford the higher taxes?

However, in many circumstances, escaping city-life does have many positives. Because there are less total people using public areas and facilities, money is distributed differently. Many suburban governments usually spend less per resident and more for the vast majority in the education sector. Simply put, Fleming feels that “…the best hope for residents of Cabrini Green and places like it is to leave the central city and settle where there is less crime, better schools, and more jobs”(93).Therefore, Flemming’s point that the suburbs are somewhat of a “haven” for oppressed families is validated in most cases since students will be more successful due to more advanced education. To back up his argument, Flemming includes evidence from a study that was conducted to determine the effects of growing up in a city versus a suburb. The results concluded that “boys aged eight to fourteen in the suburbs of Boston reported fewer arrests for violent crimes.” The results also states that “Baltimore children from the experimental group showed a slower rate of decline of test scores and improved reading scores when compared with children who stayed in the city”(116). This supports the idea that the education system in suburbs can prove to be beneficial in many respects. In hindsight this all sounds great, but what happens when too many people start moving to the suburbs?

This section is comprised of Fleming’s continuation of outlining the public sphere and proposing a somewhat utopian-esque society or solution to the housing bubble. While Fleming provides strong reasoning for his solution and is very persuasive in his argument, it is important to consider what the physical and socioeconomic impact of moving a family to the suburbs entails.  

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