All posts tagged: new residents

White Families Sucked the Suburbs Dry

White Families Sucked the Suburbs Dry

Nearly 25 years ago, I reported on the changing demographics of Cicero, a working-class suburb just west of Chicago. For years, the town, which was made up mostly of Italian and Eastern European American families, worked hard at keeping Black people from settling there. In 1951, when a Black family moved in, a mob entered their apartment, tore it up, and pushed a piano out a window. Police watched and did nothing. The governor had to call out the National Guard. By 2000, the nearby factories, which were the economic foundation of the community, had begun to close. White families moved out and left behind a distressed, struggling town to its new residents—Latinos, who now made up three-quarters of the population. It felt wrong. It felt like the white families got to enjoy the prosperity of the place, and then left it to these newcomers to figure out how to repair aging infrastructure and make up for the lost tax revenues. After reading Benjamin Herold’s Disillusioned, I now realize I was witnessing something much larger: …

What the Housing Shortage Is Doing to American Environmentalism

What the Housing Shortage Is Doing to American Environmentalism

Environmentalism has never been a stable ideology, and its adherents have never been a monolithic group. But, in Minneapolis, the green community has fractured as a wide array of self-described environmentalists find that they don’t agree on very much anymore. Back in 2018, Minneapolis generated national headlines for being the first major American city to eliminate single-family zoning. Under a plan called Minneapolis 2040, the city legalized duplexes and triplexes in all residential neighborhoods. The plan led to a frenzy of ambitious regulatory changes meant to yield denser, transit-accessible, and more affordable homes across the city. The stated goals of Minneapolis 2040 included housing affordability and racial equity, but supporters also stressed the environmental benefits of funneling population growth toward the urban core instead of outlying counties. “All the evidence and data shows that when you reduce your carbon footprint by, for instance, not having a 45-minute commute in from the suburbs … it helps the environment,” Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey told me at a downtown ice-cream shop in September. “It’s really simple, right?” Maybe. …

Why People Won’t Stop Moving to the Sun Belt

Why People Won’t Stop Moving to the Sun Belt

When it gets hot enough, as it has across the South in recent weeks, barefoot toddlers suffer second-degree burns from stepping onto concrete. People who fall on the blistering pavement wind up with skin grafts. Kids stay inside all day, “trying to survive.” Windshield wipers glue themselves in place, and the ocean transfers heat back into your body. One electric blackout could bake thousands to death inside their homes. You would think people would flee such a hellscape expeditiously. But as record-breaking heat fries the Sun Belt, the region’s popularity only grows. The numbers, laid out recently in The Economist, are striking: 12 of the 15 fastest-growing cities in the U.S. are in the Sun Belt. Of the top 50 zip codes that saw the largest increases in new residents since the start of the pandemic, 86 percent were in blazing-hot Texas, Florida, and Arizona. To be sure, during the pandemic people also moved to a few relatively cool cities in Idaho, Utah, and Colorado. But hot places overwhelmingly dominate nearly every ranking of population …

There’s a Reason People Keep Moving to Phoenix

There’s a Reason People Keep Moving to Phoenix

In Phoenix, a high of 108 degrees Fahrenheit now somehow counts as a respite. On Monday, America’s hottest major city ended its ominous streak of 31 straight days in which temperatures crested past 110. The toll of this heat—a monthly average of 102.7 degrees in July—has been brutal. One woman was admitted to a hospital’s burn unit after she fell on the pavement outside her home, and towering saguaros have dropped arms and collapsed. Over the past month, hospitals filling up with burn and heat-stroke victims have reached capacities not seen since the height of the pandemic. “Why would anyone live in Phoenix?” You might ask that question to the many hundreds of thousands of new residents who have made the Arizona metropolis America’s fastest-growing city. Last year, Maricopa County, where Phoenix sits, gained more residents than any other county in the United States—just as it did in 2021, 2019, 2018, and 2017. At its core, the question makes a mystery of something that isn’t a mystery at all. For many people, living in Phoenix …