Date of this Version
Published in Housing, Space and Quality of Life, edited by R. García-Mira, D. L. Uzzell, J. E. Real, and J. Romay (Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2005), pp. 81–95.
Throughout the world, people are migrating from rural areas to cities to find jobs and to seek a better life. As a result, many cities and regions are experiencing population influx. Many small midwestem communities have been experiencing these rapid demographic changes. 'In the 1990s, Nebraska rural counties continue(d) to experience out-migration of the young, working-age population, with remaining residents tending to be older. However, the 1980s and current outmigrants are being replaced by in-migrants' (Austin, 1996). Lured by jobs in the food processing industry (mainly meatpacking), many towns and cities have been experiencing a significant increase of new residents, mostly Latino, over the past 15 years. These changes tend to bring renewed economic vigor but they also present a complex array of physical, social, psychological, and cultural challenges. 'As in the case of Nebraska, an increase in the meatpacking industry and American minority and foreign immigration has definitely impacted rural communities, in terms of housing and quality of life issues' (Potter et al., 1996); coordination of human services (IANR, 1995); Hispanic migrant laborer homelessness (Gaber and Cantarero, 1997); community development (Gouveia and Stull, 1997); and language issues (Gouveia and Rousseau, 1995), (Ramirez, 1998) The resulting rapid and often unmanaged growth puts a strain on communities as well as on individual households. The fiscal viability of communities may be threatened, degradation of the environment can be exacerbated, and, in general, the quality of life may be diminished for both long-time residents and newly arrived residents. At the family level, individuals may suffer the stress of overcrowding, marital discord, child abuse, teenage rebellion, crime and a general loss of community identity.