Friday, November 11, 2011

Brookings Report: The Re-Emergence of Concentrated Poverty

The Brookings Institute has released a new report capturing the recent increases in concentrated poverty in the United States. Based on data from the recent census report, Brookings reports that the total number of Americans living in poverty has increased by 12.3 million since 2000. After several years of economic growth in the 1990s, the economic recession has thrown many communities into a state of distress. The population of extreme-poverty neighborhoods – those neighborhoods where 40% or more of the residents live below the poverty line – has experienced an increase of 2.2 million people since 2000. Specifically, the population of extreme-poverty neighborhoods nearly doubled in Midwestern metropolitan areas, as well as in suburban areas throughout the nation.

As the nation struggles with increasing poverty rates and an ailing economy, increases in concentrated poverty, or extreme-poverty neighborhoods, are particularly concerning as the lead to a several obstacles for residents and entire communities. As the report suggests, the struggles of residents in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty are compounded by the struggles of an entire neighborhoods, including high crime rates and limited access to transportation, quality education and healthcare. While urban and suburban residents in these neighborhoods face immense challenges, residents in suburban areas facing extreme poverty may face greater struggles as these areas may lack the support services and systems that are often concentrated in urban areas.

This data, in addition to similar reports, continues to highlight the need for community-based programs that aim to improve the well-being of residents by building the capacity of an entire neighborhood. Many of the programs outlined in the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative, for example, address the complex challenges of concentrated poverty by building economic capacity, providing access to healthy food and healthcare programs, improving the mobility of residents through transportation infrastructure and investing in education and social support programs.

For more information about the report, including access to an interactive map that allows you review specific data for the 100 largest metro areas in the United States (similar to the one below), please click here.

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