In November 2014, the Center hosted the conference “Poverty and
Place,” which focused on the implications of geography and
population density have for poverty.
This conference brought together a unique mix of researchers,
policy professionals and industry leaders to discuss their work
studying the people, geography, and the safety net as it relates
to persistent poverty.
In these pages, we have gathered materials from conference
presentations on poverty and place with:
Audio recordings of conference presentations and panels, as
well as slides
Facts and figures, as well as links to outside sources, that
provide a clearer picture of poverty in the U.S.
Central to our mission is the dissemination of poverty research.
We hope you will consider these pages a useful, ongoing resource
as we continue to add new work on U.S. poverty.
Poverty definitions depend on federal poverty level income
thresholds, but numbers alone do not describe what life is like
in poverty. To think about life in poverty is to think about
differences in class, culture, politics and opportunities for a
While the organization of rural life has been fundamentally
transformed by institutional and social changes that have
occurred since the mid-twentieth century, rural people and
communities have proved resilient in the face of these
This 2014 report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture examines
how much year-to-year changes in the prevalence of household food
insecurity is related to changes in unemployment, inflation and
the price of food relative to other goods and services.
This report by the U.S. Census Bureau describes individuals and
families living near poverty–those individuals whose family
incomes are close, but not below, official poverty thresholds.
This includes demographic characteristics such as age, sex, race,
family type, religion, educational attainment, employment and
health insurance coverage.
The challenges of living in poverty are different depending on
geography. These divisions reach across state lines and state
law. The rural, urban and suburban poor all face different
choices and limitations that require different policy solutions.
This interactive map uses a geographic information system (GIS)
to visualize and interpret poverty data from the U.S. Census
Bureau. It maps data on poverty across the states, poverty in
cities and households living in poverty.
Newly released Census Bureau data confirm that, four years into
an official economic recovery, the nation’s largest metro areas
continued to struggle with stubbornly high poverty levels even
amid improving employment numbers.
Runyon Heights, a community in Yonkers, New York, has been
populated by middle-class African Americans for nearly a century.
Lines, Black Spaces(Yale, 2006)—the first history
of a black middle-class community—tells the story of Runyon
Heights, which sheds light on the process of black
suburbanization and the ways in which residential development in
the suburbs has been shaped by race and class.
Fifty years after major initiatives under War on Poverty
legislation, poverty and inequality persist in the U.S. The
safety net provides important income support and services for
families in need. It also creates opportunities for low-income
families to break the poverty cycle.
Drawing on unique survey data from almost 1,500 faith-based and
secular service organizations in three cities, a book by Poverty
and Place conference presenter Scott W. Allard examines which
agencies are most accessible to poor populations and looks at the
profound impact of unstable funding on assistance programs.
Millions of people live in poverty in this country. They suffer
not only material deprivation, but also the hardships and
diminished life prospects that come with being poor. In
recognition of these challenges, the Brookings Institution has
commissioned fourteen innovative, evidence-based antipoverty
proposals through its Hamilton Project.
A large portion of California’s rural poor live in the Central
Valley, a population characterized by high levels of Hispanic
migrant farmworkers and English learners. A recent study found
that out of 65 rural California towns, labor-intensive
agriculture contributes to poverty and welfare demands in rural
communities by attracting large numbers of unskilled foreign
workers and offering most of them poverty-level wages. In the
65 towns, 28 percent of the residents live in households with
below-poverty incomes. Moreover, the same study projected the
population to reach 12 million by 2025.