Special Report

Cities Hit Hardest by Extreme Poverty

Source: DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

2. Fresno, CA
> Concentrated poverty rate: 30.5%
> Unemployment in poor neighborhoods: 16.2%
> Total number of poor neighborhoods: 35 (17.7% of all neighborhoods)
> Change in concentrated poverty (2011-2017): +0.1 ppt

Of all large California metro areas, Fresno has the highest concentrated poverty rate. Of the more than 243,000 metro area residents living in poverty, 30.5% also live in concentrated poverty neighborhoods, the second largest share of any U.S. metro area. Americans living in extreme poverty are face a number of barriers to social and economic mobility. For example, homeownership is a practical way to build intergenerational wealth, and the homeownership rate in Fresno’s poorest neighborhoods is less than half the homeownership rate of 57.1% in the rest of the city.

Crime is often more common in poor neighborhoods — and the high concentrated poverty rate may be driving up crime rates across the Fresno metro area. There were 582 violent crimes for every 100,000 Fresno residents in 2017, well above the national violent crime rate of 383 per 100,000.

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1. McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX
> Concentrated poverty rate: 35.1%
> Unemployment in poor neighborhoods: 9.7%
> Total number of poor neighborhoods: 25 (22.3% of all neighborhoods)
> Change in concentrated poverty (2011-2017): -16.3 ppt

The concentrated poverty rate has improved tremendously in the McAllen, Texas, metro area in recent years. As recently as 2011, over half of the metro areas residents living in poverty also lived in concentrated poverty neighborhoods. Today, 35.1% do. Despite the 16.3 percentage point improvement, McAllen has the highest concentrated poverty rate of any large U.S. metro area.

McAllen is located in southern Texas just above the U.S.-Mexico border. Over 97% of the 264,000 area residents living below the poverty line are Hispanic. Poor Hispanics are also more likely to be clustered in the metro area’s poorest neighborhoods. Over 35% of McAllen’s Hispanic population living below the poverty line are in concentrated poverty neighborhoods, compared to 24.1% of poor black residents and 25.9% of poor white residents.

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