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Harvard Study Finds Houston's Growing Number Of High-Poverty Neighborhoods Are Increasingly Suburban

Houston Homeless

Poverty is suburbanizing. Apartment List analyzed national and metro-level data from the Joint Center on Housing Studies at Harvard University from 2000 to 2015, and found Houston added 114 high-poverty neighborhoods in that time frame, bringing it to 378 high-poverty neighborhoods in 2015.

The shift is playing out across the country. In 2000, 51% of poor people lived in dense urban areas. The share dropped to 42% in 2015, but not because the poor population in dense urban areas has decreased. Rather, the poor population living in less dense areas grew.

The increased concentration of poverty in the suburbs has to do with the greater availability of affordable housing in less dense areas. As inner-city neighborhoods gentrify and homes become more expensive, poor families cannot live there.

Poverty in low-density and medium-density areas provides new challenges, as these areas often lack jobs, transportation and services. While poverty has grown in the suburbs, social safety-net programs aimed at reducing poverty are primarily in urban centers. The problem is especially prevalent in Houston, which lacks a robust public transit system. 

Related Topics: poverty, Suburban Poverty