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Rural Poverty: It's Not Who or What You Think

Rural communities face unique challenges when dealing with the affordable housing crisis. Because development does not generally occur at a large scales in rural areas, construction costs are often higher in rural communities compared to urban areas, which reduces the incentives for private investment. Additionally, a lack of access to credit in many rural areas limits funding for maintenance of existing units.ral communities face unique challenges when dealing with the affordable housing crisis. Because development does not generally occur at a large scales in rural areas, construction costs are often higher in rural communities compared to urban areas, which reduces the incentives for private investment. Additionally, a lack of access to credit in many rural areas limits funding for maintenance of existing units. (NLIHC website).


Some common myths:


Myth: Rural America is the white, agricultural “heartland.”

Fact: Rural America is increasingly diverse.


One in five Americans lives in rural communities, and more than one in five (22 percent) rural residents are people of color. Rural Native American (PDF), Asian, and Latinx (PDF) groups are growing fastest, followed by African Americans (PDF) with modest population gains, and non-Hispanic white groups experiencing the slowest growth. Most rural Americans are not farmers—in fact, fewer than 6 percent (PDF) of rural Americans are employed in agriculture. The largest employers are the education, health care, and social assistance sectors (PDF), followed by retail, construction, and transportation (PDF). And rural communities exist in nearly every state and territory, not just the Midwest.

Stereotypes about rural America as the white, agricultural heartland perpetuate the myth of the rural idyll (PDF), in which rural places are depicted as aspirational, largely white farming communities set apart from modern life. This myth erases the historical and growing diversity of rural places, masks real and persistent rural challenges, and miscasts rural ways of life as antiquated or regressed.


Myth: Poor, rural people live in “cultures of poverty.”

Fact: Most chronic economic challenges in rural areas occur because of changing global economies.

Consequences of globalization—including manufacturing losses, economic restructuring, extractive industry monopolization, and agricultural consolidation (PDF)—have contributed to economic decline and social disruption in many, though certainly not all, rural places. Instead of reflecting such realities, reporting about these communities often scapegoats residents as having intergenerational social or moral deficiencies that entrench them in “cultures of poverty.”


In such depictions, poor, rural white people are often othered with racialized framings to distance them from them from nonrural, nonpoor white people and blame them for purported moral and social failings in similar ways as are used against people of color (for example, the “white trash” epithet). Such framings reinforce anti-Black racist and classist myths about the causes of rural poverty among white people and diminish the intersecting impacts (PDF) of changing global economies and race-based discrimination (PDF) in many rural communities of color.


Myth: “Rural” is a singular voting bloc.

Fact: Rural voters are not a monolith.


Though politically conservative candidates often win races in agriculture-dependent (PDF) rural communities, politically progressive candidates frequently do better in rural communities with strong recreation, amenity-based, and service economies (PDF). In the 2016 election, nearly one in three nonmetro voters supported Clinton, and persistently poor rural counties were less likely to support Trump than counties experiencing more recent economic decline, even when controlling for urbanity. When researchers and reporters cast rural voters as a singular bloc, they homogenize rural peoples’ interests and fail to account for long-standing and growing political progressivism in many in many rural regions of the US.





rural rhttps://www.urban.org/urban-wire/debunking-three-myths-about-rural-americaegions of the US.


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