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Poverty-housing link still burdens African Americans

economic-policy-institute-160Residential 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, African Americans suffer from concentrated poverty.

Those observations are just part of the latest economic snapshot by the Economic Policy Institute and are featured in its new project, "The Unfinished March." As part of the project, leading experts on race, economics and policy met Monday (July 22) in a symposium in Washington, D.C. at the AFL-CIO.

According to the snapshot, nearly half (45 percent) of poor African-American 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, research shows African Americans still lack full access to decent, wholesome and safe housing, in large part because African-American poverty remains high and is very concentrated.



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