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CHALLENGES TO URBAN GROWTH
CHALLENGES TO URBAN GROWTH
One of the major problems that cities face is deteriorating areas, high crime, and homelessness, and poverty. As noted in the urban models, many lower income people live near the city, but lack the job skills to complete for employment within the city. This often results in a variety of social and economic problems. Census data shows that 80 percent of children living in inner cities only have one parent and because child care services are limited in the city; single parents struggle to meet the demands of childcare and employment. Problems associated with lower income areas are often violent crime (assault, murder, rape), prostitution, drug distribution and abuse, and homelessness, and food deserts.
SLUMS AND SHANTY TOWNS
Some of these inner city areas are called slums, which is a heavily populated urban informal settlement consisting of poor, inadequate living standards. Most slums lack proper sanitation services, access to clean drinking water, law enforcement, or other essential necessities of living in an urban area.
A shanty town, also known as a squatter, is a slum settlement that usually consists of building material made out of plywood sheets of plastic, cardboard boxes, and other cheap material. They are usually found on the periphery of cities or near rivers, lagoons, or city trash dumps.
Based on reports by UN Habitat, it is currently believed that over 35 percent of the all those living in urbanized areas of the world live in slums and shanty towns. There are a variety of reasons why these types of living conditions develop that include: rapid rapid rural-to-urban migration, economic stagnation and depression, high unemployment, poverty, informal economy, poor planning, politics, natural disasters and social conflicts.
As a way for city officials to deal with inner city problems, there has been a push recently to renovate cities, a process called gentrification. Middle class families are drawn to city life because housing is cheaper, yet can be fixed up and improved, whereas suburb housing prices continue to rise. Some cities also offer tax breaks and cheap loans to families who move into the city to help pay for renovation. Also, city houses tend to have more cultural style and design compared to quickly made suburb homes. Transportation tends to be cheaper and more convenient, so that commuters don't spend hours a day traveling to work. Couples without children are drawn to city living because of the social aspects of theaters, clubs, restaurants, bars, and recreational facilities.
The logic behind gentrification is that it not only reduces crime and homelessness, it also brings tax revenue to cities to improve the city's infrastructure. But there has also been a backlash against gentrification because some view it as a tax break for the middle and upper class rather than spending much needed money on social programs for low income families. It could also be argued that improving lower class households would also increase tax revenue because funding could go toward job skill training, child care services, and reducing drug use and crime.
Again referring back to census data, over half of all live in suburbs rather than in the city or rural areas. There was actually an urban sprawl model developed to explain U.S. development called the peripheral model. This model states that urban areas consists of a CBD followed by large suburban are of business and residential developments. The outer regions of the suburbs become transition zones of rural areas.
The attraction to suburbs is low crime rates, lack of social and economic problems, detached single-family housing, access to parks, and usually better schooling. These are nationwide generalizations and not necessarily true everywhere. Suburbs also tend to create economic and social segregation, where tax revenues and social resources provide better funding opportunities than in inner cities.
Of course, there is also a cost to urban sprawling. Developers are always looking for cheaper land to build, which usually means developing rural areas and farm land rather than expanding next to existing suburbs. Sprawl also requires more roads and utility lines to be built to reach further away from the urban centers. This often causes local governments to spend more on new infrastructure development than is received through tax revenue. Air pollution and traffic congestion also becomes a problem as working households are required to travel farther to and from work. Suburbs tend to be less commuter friendly to those who walk or bike because the model of development is based around vehicle transportation.
Open Geography Education by R. Adam Dastrup is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
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