Concentrated Poverty Affects Physical, Mental Health, Study Finds
Poverty is more concentrated in Fresno neighborhoods than in those of any other large U.S. city, according to a Brookings Institution study released on Wednesday, the Los Angeles Times reports (Simmons, Los Angeles Times, 10/13). The study, based on data from the 2000 census, found that concentrated poverty contributes to poor physical and mental health outcomes, in part because of "the stress of being poor and marginalized" and "living in an environment with dilapidated housing and high crime" (Berube/Katz, "Katrina's Window: Confronting Concentrated Poverty Across America," October 2005).
According to the Times, the study examined neighborhoods in which:
- At least 40% of residents have annual incomes less than the federal poverty level;
- The average annual income "barely exceeds" $20,000; and
- Four in 10 adult residents lack employment and no longer seek work (Los Angeles Times, 10/13).
Long Beach ranks sixth among cities with the most concentrated poverty, and Los Angeles ranks 14th, according to the study (Los Angeles Times, 10/13).
In response to the issue of concentrated poverty in cities, the study recommends that Congress:
- Restore federal funds for the Hope VI program;
- Provide additional support for the Housing Choice Voucher Program and increase flexibility in the program;
- Pilot a "housing-to-school" voucher program;
- Approve the Single Family Homeownership Tax Credit proposed by President Bush;
- Encourage communities to use available funds to build affordable housing in neighborhoods with low poverty rates;
- Establish regional housing corporations; and
- Expand the federal Earned Income Tax Credit and link the credit to the cost of housing ("Katrina's Window: Confronting Concentrated Poverty Across America," October 2005).
The study is available online. This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.