The New Face of Under-Resourced Communities
31 Pages Posted: 29 Mar 2021
Date Written: October 22, 2020
This report examines the current state of under-resourced communities— relatively heavily populated areas of high poverty and low income located in metropolitan areas. More than 1400 municipalities and unincorporated places in 183 metropolitan areas include all or part of an under-resourced community as defined in this report. Analyzing data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey for the years 2014 through 2018, the report finds that:
The residents of under-resourced communities make up 14 percent of the U.S. population but
31 percent of the nation’s poor.
Taken together, the nation’s under-resourced communities have a poverty rate of 29 percent, more than double the 13 percent poverty rate of the nation as a whole.
Taken together, 52 percent of under-resourced community residents are people of color, compared
to 27 percent of all U.S. residents. These communities are 31 percent Black, compared to 13 percent for the nation as a whole.
Under-resourced communities in the Midwest, South, and Northeast have high percentages of
residents who are Black, while under-resourced communities in the West are majority Hispanic or
Latino and have a low percentage of residents who are Black.
Of those who live in under-resourced communities, 69 percent live in principal cities and 31 percent
live in suburbs.
Both the total population and the poor population of under-resourced communities are split about
evenly between cities with populations of 250,000 or more and those with populations below 250,000.
For the 450 major cities that have under-resourced communities, the report ranks those communities according to their level of economic disadvantage, measured by their poverty rate and the percentage of all poor residents of the city who live in those communities. The rankings show that:
Among the 450 ranked cities, the five most disadvantaged under-resourced communities are
located in Dearborn, MI; Flint, MI; Youngstown, OH; York, PA; and Detroit, MI, while the five least
disadvantaged are located in San Jose, CA; Berkeley, CA; Longmont, CO; Federal Way, WA; and
Baldwin Park, CA.
In general, under-resourced communities are more disadvantaged if they:
Are located in the Midwest or Northeast.
Are located in principal cities.
Have large percentages of residents who are Black.
Are located in cities of 500,000 or more residents.
These geographic and demographic patterns of disadvantage likely result from systemic racism; regional differences in the structure of local government; better public transportation and older, less expensive housing in principal cities; and exclusionary zoning in many suburbs. The report recommends comprehensive community development strategies to reduce concentrated poverty in
under-resourced communities in ways that benefit and reflect the priorities of low-income residents and build on the strengths of their communities.
Keywords: community development, urban policy, concentrated poverty, inner cities
JEL Classification: R11, R23, R58
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation