Political Notebook

Fresno has high poverty concentration, national study finds

As her dog, “Wiggles” waits, Crickette Blackwell, who is homeless, is served her Thanksgiving 2014 meal by volunteers at Westcare’s “The Living Room.” The meals served on the street were for homeless and those who are below the poverty level, as a means to reach out and help those less fortunate.
As her dog, “Wiggles” waits, Crickette Blackwell, who is homeless, is served her Thanksgiving 2014 meal by volunteers at Westcare’s “The Living Room.” The meals served on the street were for homeless and those who are below the poverty level, as a means to reach out and help those less fortunate. jwalker@fresnobee.com

Fresno is suffering from a double-dose of poverty, a new national study indicates.

Not only does Fresno, vis-à-vis other large California cities, have one of the higher rates of poverty, but its poor residents are among the most isolated of any American city, regardless of race.

The Century Foundation study, dubbed “Architecture of Segregation,” was aimed at measuring the concentration of poverty in cities. It determined that the nation has seen not only an increase in the number of high-poverty neighborhoods, but a doubling of those living in such neighborhoods since 2000.

Among other things, the study lists the cities with the highest concentrations of poverty by race and Fresno is in the top 10 of black, Latino and white poverty pockets.

Fresno is the only California city to appear on the lists, and researchers found an unusual facet to its poverty concentration.

While the concentration of poverty in other cities tended to increase steadily from 2000 to 2013, in Fresno it declined during the first years of the period, then shot up dramatically during the Great Recession that began in mid-decade.

In 2000, for instance, 42.8 percent of black Fresnans in poverty were concentrated in high-poverty neighborhoods, but it dropped to 28.1 percent during the 2005-2009 period before bouncing up to 51.4 percent in 2009-2013. That pushed Fresno to having the nation’s 5th highest rate of black poverty concentration.

The same pattern was found among poverty-stricken Latinos in Fresno, from 31.9 percent concentration in 2000 to 28.5 percent in 2005-2009 and 43 percent in 2009-2013, 8th highest in the nation.

And it was also true among non-Latino whites in poverty, from 13.2 percent in 2000 to 9.5 percent in 2005-2009 and 19.6 percent in 2005-2009, 6th highest in the nation.

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