But Towson resident Laura Pogliano said she's not surprised to hear that Brookings found there are insufficient resources in suburbia. She called every agency and group she could think of when a 20-year-old friend of her son's was evicted in January, and she got nowhere.
The young man was working but fell behind on his rent after losing his roommate, she said. The only housing suggestion she received in two weeks of calls was homeless shelters. But first-come, first-served meant that her son's friend wouldn't be able to count on a bed if he waited until after work to show up.
Instead, he lived with Pogliano's family from January through April — losing his job in the process because he was farther from work and couldn't get reliable transportation, she said. Now he's living and working in the Frederick area.
"There's no emergency help anymore," Pogliano said. "Everything drives you towards homelessness."
United Way of Central Maryland, which runs the 211 line for emergency-assistance referrals, said the top request in both Howard and Baltimore counties is for housing help. People feel squeezed, said Sandy Monck, the nonprofit's chief impact officer.
"Wages have not gone up to match the cost of living," she said. "We're seeing people go to food pantries and food banks who have never had to do that before."
Enterprise Homes, the development arm of the Columbia-based affordable-housing giant Enterprise Community Partners, develops rental and for-sale projects in the city and the suburbs. The group's officials always have seen a need in both places, said Christine Madigan, Enterprise Homes' senior vice president of development.
To put it into perspective: Enterprise's Cove Point senior-housing complex in Dundalk has 148 apartments and a waiting list of about 400.
"We have similar long waiting lists, really, at all our properties," Madigan said. "All of them."
Baltimore Sun reporter Jessica Anderson contributed to this article.
Poverty by the numbers in the Baltimore area:
•Number of poor residents in Baltimore's suburban communities, 2011: 158,743
•Number of poor residents in Baltimore: 149,605
•Growth in suburban poverty in the Baltimore area, 2000-2011: 58 percent
•Growth in Baltimore's poverty: 4 percent
•Share of region's jobs within a 90-minute commute of low-income suburbs by public transportation: 28 percent
Source: Brookings Institution