Residential segregation and ongoing poverty has left African Americans in some of the least desirable housing in some of the lowest-resourced communities in America. In addition to much higher poverty rates, blacks suffer from concentrated poverty. Nearly half (45 percent) of poor black children live in neighborhoods with concentrated poverty, but only a little more than a tenth (12 percent) of poor white children live in similar neighborhoods. Children in neighborhoods with concentrated poverty experience more social and behavioral problems, have lower test scores, and are more likely to drop out of school. Recent research suggests that reducing children’s exposure to concentrated poverty can improve their likelihood of upward economic mobility.
In 1963, at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, Whitney M. Young Jr., executive director of the National Urban League, called for African Americans to “march from the rat-infested, over-crowded ghettos to decent, wholesome, unrestricted residential areas disbursed throughout our cities.” Fifty years later, African Americans still lack full access to decent, wholesome, and safe housing, in large part because black poverty remains high and is very concentrated.
Today’s Economic Snapshot is part of EPI’s new project, “The Unfinished March,” which includes a symposium in Washington, DC today (held at the AFL-CIO from 4:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.) that will feature leading experts on race, economics, and policy.