Cities that experience "urban sprawl" and "urban blight" are unsustainable. Urban sprawl is defined as the building of houses and shopping malls that are further away from urban centers and are connected by highways, all of which are developed without proper land-use planning. Urban blight (or urban decay) is defined as the deterioration and loss of buildings and services (e.g., businesses, residential neighborhoods, and schools) in inner-city areas. Both urban sprawl and urban blight result in unsustainable resource use and ecosystem capital loss.
"White flight" leaves minorities and other economically disadvantaged people trapped in deteriorating inner cities. These people suffer racial and economic discrimination and are faced with inadequate goods and services, particularly in education and health care, while non-minority groups inhabit sprawled suburban areas. Similarly, industrialization and urbanization in developing countries, which brings rural workers to urban areas for employment opportunities, results in workers being forced into slums where they are denied basic social and environmental goods and services.
Urban sprawl and urban blight are ultimately the result of poor or nonexistent public policy and city planning. In fact, the Highway Trust Fund (established in 1956) encouraged urban sprawl, which led to urban blight, by taxing gasoline for the building of roads and highways. Smart-growth policy initiatives are now taking hold as the reasons for preferences toward low-density housing. Smart-growth identifies and incorporates community planning and includes compassion for the poor who experience the brunt of urban sprawl and blight in developed countries and its parallel of slum neglect in developing countries.
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