Tulsa Suburbs Have a New Neighbor: Poverty

  • Joe Wertz

Broken Arrow, Bixby and Owasso are the Tulsa metro’s fastest-growing suburbs.

Fast growth has been fueled by jobs, good schools and nice homes in a stable housing market. The population has boomed, but so too has poverty, the Tulsa World reports.

The Bixby Community Outreach Center, which provides food, clothing and financial help, has seen demand for assistance skyrocket. But the biggest surprise might be the changing demographic of those seeking help.

“We find a lot more working poor coming in, as well as those who’ve come from middle management and have gone through their savings,” Executive Director Natalie Kemmerly tells the paper’s Cary Aspinwall. “Now we’re even seeing some of our donors coming in.”

The same thing is happening at outreach centers throughout other Tulsa suburbs, the World reports.

From the HQ of Broken Arrow Neighbors, with director Kim Goddard:

For lack of a better explanation, she said, they’re “people who have no idea how to be poor.”

Most of the people she sees have ended up there because of a reduction in their hours and income at work or an increase in out-of-pocket medical expenses, she said.

While people and their homes moved to the suburbs in recent years, jobs and resources didn’t necessarily follow, the World reports, pointing to Brookings Institution studies on the suburbanization of poverty.

Meaning those living in poverty in the suburbs may have less access to jobs, public transportation and agencies that could assist them …