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KERA's One Crisis Away project focuses on North Texans living on the financial edge.

Exploring The Gulf Between Dallas' Poverty Rate And Dallas' Child Poverty Rate


Something that often pushes people living near poverty over that edge is having children. New numbers from the Mayor's Task Force on Poverty shows a wide gap in Dallas between the general poverty rate, and the child poverty rate.

Tim Bray who runs the Institute for Urban Policy Research at the University of Texas at Dallas explains the disparity.

  Interview Highlights: Tim Bray on…

…the overall takeaway from the new numbers: “We’re getting better but we’re still pretty far away from where we need to be. We’re at third place now among cities with more than a million people in childhood poverty, unfortunately our child poverty rate is still almost 1 in 3.”

…how children can actually cause poverty: “The census bureau defines poverty based upon the number of people who live in a household and the number who are children, which by definition means as soon as you have kids in your household, you’re closer to poverty than you were before. If you were pretty close, that can be the deciding point that drops you under the poverty line. When you’re already working two or three jobs and now you have the added financial burden of a child, whom you very much love and want to care for and want to provide for, there’s not much more you can do to raise the income in your house, and Dallas is not an inexpensive place to live.”

…why Dallas’ child poverty rate is third worst in the nation: “We don’t have many families, or as many as other cities do, who are in that middle income bracket. And frankly what happens when folks who let’s say are closer to the poverty line but they either get that promotion at work or they finish that associates degree or that bachelor’s degree and they’re ready to move into maybe a slightly larger house, those houses aren’t available for them in Dallas. And so we wind up seeing them move to Mesquite, or Garland or Irving, or Richardson, and they’re not in the city anymore, they’re not in our numbers anymore. The real pressure for us is to make sure that our policies focus more on raising up those who are in poverty into the middle class, not simply importing middle class residents into the city.”

Courtney Collins has been working as a broadcast journalist since graduating from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 2004. Before coming to KERA in 2011, Courtney worked as a reporter for NPR member station WAMU in Washington D.C. While there she covered daily news and reported for the station’s weekly news magazine, Metro Connection.