Simple contrasts between central cities and suburbs are no longer adequate to describe American metropolitan areas. Many suburban areas now face social, economic and fiscal problems previously limited to central cities, and at least 40 percent of the U.S. metropolitan population now resides in suburbs facing significant social or fiscal challenges, often with fewer resources than central cities.

The current way metropolitan areas are growing is damaging to all types of places; effective, equitable solutions demand a regional focus that the Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity (IMO) can provide. Policy-makers, planners and advocates in more than 50 metropolitan areas across the country have used IMO's findings to promote more efficient and equitable growth.

Extensive research on metropolitan areas by IMO (and its predecessors, the Institute on Race and Poverty, Ameregis, and the Metropolitan Area Research Corporation) confirms that:

  • Substantial portions of suburban populations now live in stressed communities in virtually every large metropolitan area in the country;
  • Public and private practices in housing and lending markets have contributed to increasing stress in already-struggling urban and suburban neighborhoods;
  • Properly scaled regional policies can help all types of communities manage growth and change; and
  • Few metropolitan areas currently have metropolitan governance structures capable of implementing effective, region-based reforms.

These studies are broken into the following categories: