Friend of Strong Towns, City Observatory, has conducted significant research on the problem of concentrated poverty — a topic that, as mentioned earlier this week, often intersects with suburban poverty. While City Observatory's primary focus in their report, "Lost in Place," is urban concentrations of poverty (especially as it contradicts popular notions about gentrification), they've created a fantastic interactive map that you can use to view concentrations of poverty throughout metropolitan areas.
It's clear from looking at these illustrations of data on cities throughout the country that suburbs are also experiencing high levels of concentrated poverty. The map illustrates 4 different subsections of data:
- Purple = Chronic High Poverty Tracts where poverty has been continuously high (more than 30%)
- Orange = Fallen Star Tracts where poverty in the last 40 years has jumped from low (less than 15%) to high (more than 30%)
- Yellow = Newly Poor Tracts, which have become more than 30% poor at some point in the last 40 years. The year the tract became poor is depicted in different shades of yellow (see the key in the bottom right corner of the map).
- Green = Rebounded Tracts where poverty has dipped below 15% at some point in the last 40 years. The year the tract decreased in poverty is depicted in different shades of green (see the key in the bottom right corner of the map).
Select a metropolitan area of interest in the drop down menu in the top left corner, then be sure to zoom out to view the surrounding suburbs.
Hover over each colored census tract to see the change in poverty over the last several decades. City Observatory has also kindly included information on each tract's distance from the central business district.
This map allows us to see the concentrations of suburban poverty in our own communities and understand the true scope of this national problem.