Category Archives: Poverty
As poverty increases, affordable housing, access to public transportation, and linkages between housing, transportation, and job centers become more important for RVA region.
The recent New York Times story about suburban poverty is getting a lot of attention. The story notes the shifting growth of poverty from the urban core of New York to its suburban peripheries, but it’s based around Confronting Suburban Poverty in America, a book released today by Elizabeth Kneebone and Alan Berube at the Brookings Institution. Admittedly, I haven’t read the book yet (yet!), but this trend came up in some data I was looking at recently. In Virginia, Richmond and its immediate counties – Chesterfield and Henrico – are good examples of this trend in action.
The shift of poverty growth from the city to the suburbs is a trend we can see pretty clearly in the numbers. A look at data comparing poverty in the City of Richmond and the counties of Chesterfield and Henrico, shows trends that aren’t far off from those outlined in the Times article.
The City of Richmond gets attention throughout the region for its poverty rate, which was 26.4 according to 2011 estimates. The city’s mayor, Dwight Jones, made the development of an antipoverty strategy one of the first priorities of his second term. But the bulk of the region’s poverty growth – numbers of people rather than rates – is happening in the suburbs.
From 1989 to 2011, which is as far back as the Census Bureau’s Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates go, the City of Richmond’s population in poverty has grown by about 14%, or about 6,200 people. In terms of poverty rate, that’s a 3.4 point increase, from 23.0 to 26.4. In the same time period, Henrico has seen its population below poverty grow by 163% (20,500 individuals), and Chesterfield by 181% (14,500 individuals).
Suburban poverty rates remain lower the city’s 26.4, but poverty growth in the counties has outpaced total population growth. Point increases in the poverty rate of a suburban county – where the total population has been growing rapidly for decades – represent more people than point increases in the rate of the city – where the total population only recently reversed its shrinking numbers. Henrico’s poverty rate increased 5.0 points between 1989 and 2011 (5.8 to 10.8). Chesterfield’s increased 3.4 points (3.8 to 7.2). As noted above, Richmond also had a 3.4 point increase over those 22 years. But Chesterfield’s 3.4 point increase represents 14,500 individuals, more than double Richmond’s 3.4 point increase of 6,200 individuals.
The chart below shows pretty clearly just how significant those changes have been:
The growth of poverty in jurisdictions throughout the region is cause for concern, and the trend of more rapid suburban growth is important. As the suburban population of individuals below poverty increases, Richmond’s share of the region’s poverty drops. In 1989, the city’s share of poverty among the three jurisdictions was 68.5%. Today, it’s 47.9% (see the chart below). There are more people in poverty in the immediate suburbs of Richmond than there are in the city.
The shifting geography of poverty away from the region’s urban core has important implications for policy decisions at the local and regional levels. While there is still need for the antipoverty resources and strategies traditionally concentrated in the city, the counties are facing a growing problem. The more widely distributed suburban residential patterns may make addressing those needs more costly.
Urban poverty in the Richmond region isn’t shrinking, but that’s not for lack of attention or effort. Suburban poverty in Richmond has surpassed urban poverty in total numbers, presenting new challenges to the counties. As the population of suburban poor continues to expand, antipoverty resources and infrastructure – affordable housing, access to public transportation, and linkages between housing, transportation, and job centers – will only increase in importance across the region.
This is a guest post by Mike MacKenzie. Mike is a Housing Research Analyst at HOME. He joined the staff in January 2013 after spending 2012 helping HOME study how local governments identify and address fair housing needs. The former journalist and radio producer is passionate about sharing information and analysis that promotes transparency, informed decision-making, and accountability. Mike specializes in fair housing planning, the spatial impacts of local policy decisions, and the federal regulations that guide local and state governments. He received his Master of Urban and Regional Planning at Virginia Commonwealth University in 2011.
Our future economic prosperity could depend on mortgage lending discrimination
America is becoming more and more diverse. Given how much middle class wealth depends on home ownership and home values, if we do not significantly reduce mortgage lending discrimination, then we are placing our future economic prosperity at risk.
HOME CEO Heather Crislip writes about mortgage lending discrimination in her recent op/ed:
Subprime lending to minority borrowers has abated within the past few years; in its place is a lack of credit and, in turn, opportunity in African-American, Hispanic and low-income neighborhoods. During the housing boom these households were often targeted by unfair lending practices through the distribution of inferior mortgage loan products to qualified borrowers. The Center for Responsible Lending found that African-American and Latino borrowers with good credit were given high interest rate loans three times as often during the housing boom.
According to the US Census, by the end of this decade no single racial or ethnic group will constitute a majority of children under 18. And in about three decades, no single group will constitute a majority of the country as a whole. But as we are growing more diverse, we are also growing more unequal. Both wealth and racial inequality have increased, in some cases dramatically.
The Richmond Mayor’s Anti-Poverty Commission presented its Final Report and Recommendations to Mayor Dwight C. Jones and the City of Richmond. The report represents nearly two years of research, public input sessions, and committee work. The commission’s findings stress the need for a regional rapid transit transportation system and a comprehensive housing policy. Commission Co-Chair Ellen Robertson plans to have the report presented to City Council during their informal session tonight, January 28, 2013.
As the 2013 Virginia General Assembly comes close to passing a significant new transportation package, there are critical questions that must be answered if all Virginians will be paying more taxes for transportation.
Will new transportation developments improve access that low and moderate income Virginians have to areas of high employment growth? Over the past few decades, the spatial mismatch between job creation in the suburbs and low‐income workers in the inner city has become more severe. This imbalance between jobs and housing deprives citizens living in areas where housing is affordable from accessing employment opportunities in high job‐growth areas. New transportation developments must focus on increasing access low income Virginians have to areas of high employment growth. This means not only roads, but also options such as mass transit.
For example, only 53% of the region’s jobs are served by the Greater Richmond Transit Corporation. Very few bus routes even extend into the surrounding counties. Those that do are primarily express lanes serving people coming into the city for jobs, not people going out of the city for jobs. This data was published in a report by HOME in December 2012 entitled Where You Live Makes All The Difference: An Opportunity Map of the Richmond Region.
Where you live directly influences your ability to access the opportunity cycle
By 2040 the population of the United States will be predominantly people of color. The evidence put forth in Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia’s new report Where You Live Makes All the Difference: An Opportunity Map of the Richmond Region suggests that if our economic development and housing policies continue to isolate and exploit this population, the future vitality of the region is in trouble.
The Richmond region has long suffered from the repercussions of its past. Beginning in the 1930s, federal housing policy promoted segregation through incentivizing the growth of white, middle class suburban areas while starving the inner city of credit. The result has been intergenerational, concentrated poverty in some of the oldest neighborhoods of the region, while increasingly remote neighborhoods, available only to those with the necessary means, continue to blossom and flourish. Only by understanding the mechanisms that have woven the fabric of opportunity throughout the Richmond region will we be able to move forward.
Over 35% VA households are over burdened by the cost of housing. Granby High School teacher Cabrillya Crumm is seeing that poverty is forcing her students to drop out of High School to work full time and help cover family expenses.
The school performance of children living in poverty is affected by so much by factors outside the classroom. Cabrillya speaks about trying to support her students but feeling like she needs a lot of help counseling students.
Volunteers, staff, and board members from Housing Opportunities Made Equal, Virginia Habitat for Humanity, United Way, the Virginia Interfaith Center, EarthCraft, and Rebuilding Together discussed housing issues over coffee with Delegate Peter Farrell on Thursday, September 27, 2012, at Christ Episcopal Church in western Henrico County.
The discussion began with an overview of the work done by the two Habitat for Humanity affiliates in Goochland and Louisa. Over the years, these organizations, which are run completely by volunteers, have built dozens of homes and helped many Virginians become first-time homebuyers. Habitat for Humanity and other non-profit housing organizations are now building EarthCraft-certified homes. EarthCraft homes are built for energy, water, and resource efficiency; durability; and enhanced indoor air quality. EarthCraft homes are great investments because they benefit low-income Virginians with lower utility costs, reduced home maintenance requirements, and higher resale values. Many low- and moderate-income Virginians live in older housing that, while cheaper, is more costly to maintain because of high utility and maintenance costs. Housing that is built to be more sustainable and energy efficient isn’t just good for the environment; it is great economics for home builders, real estate professionals, and home owners.