Poverty and Place


Poverty and Place

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
  • Infographics
  • Policy briefs
  • 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.


People and 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 better life.

Book Charts Social and Economic Change Affecting Rural Communities
By Kai Schafft

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 transformations.

Report on U.S. Food Insecurity
U.S. Department of Agriculture

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.

Report on People Living Near Poverty 1966-2012
U.S. Census Bureau

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 Challenge of Geography

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.

Poverty in America Interactive Map

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. 

Learn more at esri.com.

Report Shows That Few Metro Areas Made Progress Against Poverty in 2013
Brookings Institution

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.

Book Sheds Light on the Process of Black Suburbanization
By Bruce D. Haynes

Runyon Heights, a community in Yonkers, New York, has been populated by middle-class African Americans for nearly a century. Red 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.


The Safety Net and Persistent Inequality

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.

Book Examines Organizations Serving the Poor
By Scott W. Allard

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.

Hamilton Project Proposes Comprehensive Anti-poverty Initiatives
Brookings Institution

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.

California’s Rural Public Education System at a Crossroads
By Juliana Fehrenbacher

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.[1] 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.