Neighborhood poverty: All neighborhoods should be communities of opportunity.

Insights & Analyses

  • The percentage of people living in high-poverty neighborhoods has increased since 2000 for all racial and ethnic groups except Asian or Pacific Islanders.

  • Almost half of Black residents in Michigan and Mississippi live in high-poverty neighborhoods while less than a quarter of White residents in these states live in high-poverty neighborhoods. Detroit has the highest percentage of residents living in high-poverty neighborhoods at 74 percent, compared with zero percent in Plano, Texas. 

  • While Black populations were most likely to live in high-poverty neighborhoods in 1990, Native Americans are now most likely to live in high-poverty neighborhoods. 

  • The gap between the percentage of White people living in high-poverty neighborhoods and the percentage of people of color living in high-poverty neighborhoods shrunk from 22 percentage points in 1990 to 15 percentage points in 2017.

Drivers of Inequity

People of color are more likely to live in neighborhoods with concentrated poverty due to the long history of racial segregation in the United States. This segregation was forged through historical practices such as the expropriation of land from Indigenous people, racially exclusive housing covenants, and redlining. While many of these practices were explicitly aimed at Black Americans, they laid the foundation for patterns of segregation among other marginalized racial groups. Today, segregation is maintained through practices like discrimination in mortgage lending and exclusionary zoning policies. Segregation has led to the dispossession of communities of color and their exclusion from economic prosperity while enabling White communities to accumulate wealth and resources.

Strategies

Grow an equitable economy: Policies to build communities of opportunity

Strategy in Action

Evergreen Cooperatives build wealth in Cleveland neighborhoods. Consisting of foundations, hospitals, universities, and the city, the Evergreen Cooperatives are creating jobs and wealth-building opportunities in some of the highest poverty neighborhoods in Cleveland by leveraging a portion of their multibillion dollar annual business expenditures to start worker-owned cooperatives. The Evergreen Cooperatives include an industrial laundry, a solar installation firm, and an urban farm that have collectively created jobs for over 200 employees, 137 of whom are also employee-owners. In 2018, Evergreen launched the Fund for Employee Ownership, which aims to convert family businesses whose owners are approaching retirement into co-ops. Their long-term goal is to create a network of worker-owned firms with 5,000 employees. Learn more.

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