State News

Report: 50 percent of black kids in Michigan live in concentrated poverty

October 13, 2019, 11:12 AM

One in every two African American children in Michigan lives in concentrated poverty — the highest level in the nation, according to a new data snapshot from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The national average is 28 percent.

First reported by the Michigan Advance, the snapshot reveals black children in Michigan fare worse than all other minority groups in the state. Hispanics and Latinx people had the second highest percentage of kids in concentrated poverty, at 23 percent.

Here's how the foundation reports black kids in Michigan stack up against other areas with high rates of concentrated poverty:

... the figure is 40% or higher in the District of Columbia (40%), Louisiana (41%), Mississippi (43%), Ohio (43%), Pennsylvania (42%), and Wisconsin (44%).

The problem is most pronounced in cities like Detroit, where concentrated poverty has risen dramatically since the recession. Between 2008 and 2015, the number of high-poverty neighborhoods or census tracts more than tripled, according to a report by CityLab

And without government intervention, the problem will likely only worse, the foundation writes.

... living in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty undermines child well-being. Moreover, a 2015 study showed that children under age 13 who moved from low-income neighborhoods to more affluent communities had higher incomes as adults compared to peers who remained in impoverished areas.

High-poverty neighborhoods generally don’t provide access to healthy food and quality public schools or medical care, and they often subject residents to greater exposure to environmental hazards, such as poor air quality or lead. Financial hardships and fear of violence also can cause chronic stress in children, which has been linked with diabetes, heart disease and stroke later in life.

Our nation is currently in the midst of a long period of economic expansion. Yet stagnant wages, rising housing costs and inaccessible job opportunities keep many children and families trapped in impoverished communities. And despite economic growth, we have not seen significant reduction in poverty. It is imperative that national, state and local officials, as well as philanthropic and business leaders, act to transform the communities where low-income families live. Building strong neighborhoods that foster stable, healthy families will strengthen the nation as a whole.

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