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Twin Cities suburban poverty rates among nation's fastest rising

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The Brookings Institution on Monday will release a study that says the Twin Cities area ranks among the top 10 in the nation on a list of metro areas with the fastest-rising suburban poverty rates.

Shakopee and Apple Valley top the list of outer-ring suburbs with dramatic increases in poverty rates, the Star Tribune reports. Both cities allowed lots of townhouse construction during the housing boom — nearly 2,000 units in the two cities from 2000 to 2005, according to the Metropolitan Council, the newspaper notes. The Star Tribune visits Inver Hills Community College, near some of the wealthiest neighborhoods in suburban Dakota County, but where 40 percent of its students identify themselves as in need of food assistance.

MPR reports that the number of suburban Twin Cities residents living in poverty has more than doubled in the last decade, according to the new study. Brookings data indicate there are 115,000 more poor people living in the Twin Cities suburbs than there were 10 years ago.

Poverty grew much faster during that time in the suburbs than in St. Paul and Minneapolis, MPR reports. But MPR offers this perspective: The poverty rate in the Twin Cities suburbs still stands at less than 8 percent, still lower than most other suburban areas.

The report by Brookings, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, challenges the notion that poverty is more a problem for urban cores and struggling rural areas.

“The landscape of poverty has changed dramatically in the past decade, and public perceptions haven’t kept up,” said Elizabeth Kneebone, a fellow in the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings, the Star Tribune reports.

The report aims to explore solutions as it examines "the new reality of metropolitan poverty and opportunity in America."

Nationwide, during the 2000s, poverty grew twice as fast in suburban areas as in cities, NPR reports. There are now more than 16 million poor people in the nation's suburbs — more than in urban or rural areas, and their advocates are having a tough time reaching them, NPR reports.

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