The number of high-poverty neighborhoods in Austin increased from 48 to 79 between the years of 2000 and 2015, according to a recent study. Rentonomics, the analytics blog of website ApartmentList, looked at data provided in an extensive report by Joint Center on Housing Studies at Harvard University and found that the city added 31 high-poverty neighborhoods during that period.
Austin’s numbers reveal a slight departure from national trends in terms of what has been called the “suburbanization of poverty.” While the study found that, nationwide, the high-poverty neighborhoods in dense urban areas decreased by 8.7 percent, the number of such neighborhoods in the urban core decreased slightly, from 54 percent to 55%, during the same time period.
Similarly, the concentration of high-poverty neighborhoods in the Austin metro’s medium-dense, or close-in, suburbs shifted downward, from 37.5 percent to 26.6 percent. By comparison, the shift nationally was from 21.5 percent to 25.3 percent, a 3.8 percent increase.
Austin’s least-dense, or outlying, suburbs, on the other hand, saw an increase from 12.5 percent to around 19 percent, while nationally that number decreased by only 5 percent.
The reason for the slight departure, according to ApartmentList data analyst Andrew Woo, is because Austin is (surprise) a “unique place.” In an email to Curbed Austin, Woo explained that the difference is probably due to the recent large population growth. The fact that, unlike in most cities, the share of high-poverty neighborhoods in dense-urban and least-dense urban areas increased, while medium-dense areas saw a decrease, “indicates again that there is a growing poor population on the outskirts of the metro.”
Regardless of the exact manner in which it is happening from city to city, however, it’s important to remember, as Woo puts it in an email, that nationwide, “The poor population in dense urban areas has not decreased. Rather, the poor population living in less dense areas has increased.”
• Poverty in the Suburbs: Are Cities Prepared to Deal with the Growing Problem? [Rentonomics/ApartmentList]
• The state of the nation’s housing 2017 [Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University]