Crystal City and the poverty of place

When it comes to poverty in America many think about the low-income communities in big cities.

But in fact, poverty has become entrenched in rural America. The small towns that pepper the countryside are stressed and struggling. The people there have few opportunities, lack access to health care, few public programs and scarce resources to help break the multi-generational cycle of poverty of place.

The most disadvantaged of these locations include the Deep South, Appalachia and South Texas.

Researchers studying the impacts and unfairness of rural poverty spent time in South Texas, particularly in Crystal City, to see how racism, failed public policy and a history of exploitation shaped this region and its impact today.

Luke Shaefer is a Professor of Social Justice and Social Policy and Associate Dean for Research and Policy Engagement at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan. He is a co-author of the book The Injustice of Place: Uncovering the Legacy of Poverty in America.

*This interview was recorded on Tuesday, September 12, 2023.

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