News for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
KERA's One Crisis Away project focuses on North Texans living on the financial edge.

40% Of Dallas Families On The Financial Edge

trenttsd (cc) flickr

Four in ten people in Dallas are at risk of financial disaster. They live in “asset poverty” according to a new study. KERA’s BJ Austin reports.

The study is called an asset and opportunity profile, done by the Corporation for Enterprise Development.

Thirty-nine percent of households in the city live in asset poverty. That’s a lack of wealth or assets to sustain a family for three months if there is a job loss, a medical emergency, or some other financial crisis. Ida Rademacher, research director of the study, says these households have no buffer between them and financial disaster.

Rademacher: And when I talk about a buffer, we’re only talking about 46-hundred dollars, and that’s if you liquidate; if you sell your house, if you sell your car.

Rademacher says the high number of renters in Dallas – more than 50% -- contributes to asset poverty levels. Blacks and Hispanics are more than twice as likely as whites to be “asset poor.” Radamacher says it is not, however, a low income issue. One third of Dallas residents considered middle class, earning 45 to 70 thousand a year, live in asset poverty.

Rademacher: Income alone is absolutely critical, and absolutely not sufficient for financial security.

The income poverty rate in Dallas is 19%, twice the national average. The Dallas “asset poverty” rate of 39% is ten points higher than state and national levels.

The Communities Foundation of Texas, which paid for the Dallas study. It plans a series of meetings over the next year to find ways to coordinate programs to help people avoid the slide into poverty.

Former KERA reporter BJ Austin spent more than 25 years in broadcast journalism, anchoring and reporting in Atlanta, New York, New Orleans and Dallas. Along the way, she covered Atlanta City Hall, the Georgia Legislature and the corruption trials of Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards.