Livable Cities

How Bad is Poverty in Dallas? Here Are the Numbers.

Two council reports on homelessness and community development reveal just how pressing an issue poverty is in Dallas

The Dallas City Council’s Housing Committee will listen to two sobering briefings today. The first is the final report of the Dallas Commission on Homelessness, which outlines findings and recommendations of a year-long look into the homeless problem in Dallas. In short, homelessness in Dallas increased 21 percent over the past year thanks to a combination of high rates of poverty and shortages of affordable housing.

So how should Dallas fight its homeless problem? The first recommendation from the report is that the city and county collaborate to create a “community‐wide system of leadership, accountability, and sustainable funding,” which is advice that might apply to any number of city challenges and initiatives. Other recommendations include creating better systems to monitor homeless populations and connect them to services, expand shelter capacity, increase available housing, and create ways to ensure that people leaving health or substance abuse treatment facilities, as well as correctional facilities, have access to housing.

There’s some good news here, however. Cities like Houston have figured out ways to address homeless. Between 2011 and 2016, Houston has reduced chronic homelessness by 76 percent with overall homelessness down 57 percent thanks to a collaboration with HUD. In other words, a successful model is out there, Dallas just needs to find the leadership and funding to implement it.

And if the council needed any more reminders of how urgent solving the homeless problem is, a second briefing today on community development drills into just how bad Dallas’ poverty problem has become. Here is a worrisome barrage of data to start your week:

  • Dallas has the highest number of people living 185 percent below the poverty line of any American city and the second highest number of people living 100 percent below the poverty line.
  • Dallas’ median income has declined since 1989.
  • Over half of Dallas households make less than $50,000 per year, and 28.6 percent make less than $25,000.
  • Less than 20 percent of jobs are accessible by transit in less than 90 minutes, and more than 70 percent of HUD assisted properties are unaffordable when housing and transportation costs are combined.
  • Over 27,300 residents live in poverty despite having full-time employment.
  • Compared with other Texas cities, Dallas has the highest percentage of individuals without a high school diploma and the lowest percentage of residents who hold college degree.
  • 48 percent of single mothers in Dallas live in poverty.
  • Five zip codes in southern Dallas, west Dallas, and northwest Dallas have teen birth rates similar to Burkina Faso, the Gambia, and Somalia.
  • 38 percent of Dallas children live in poverty, 20 percent have no health insurance, 28 percent have inadequate food and nutrition, 160,000 children are obese, and 60,000 have asthma.



  • DubiousBrother

    In order to consider any course of action on the homeless problem it is necessary to know how many people living in Dallas are in this country illegally? Once that is know, it is necessary to know what affect the illegal population has on housing, employment, medical costs and schools.

    • OldLakeHighlander

      Homelessness is overwhelmingly the American-born mentally ill. Illegal immigration has little to nothing to do with it.

      • DubiousBrother

        It is hard for me to buy into “little or nothing to do with it.” Illegal immigrants live in housing, get benefits and medical treatment and take jobs from Americans and those that are here legally. Those that are affected the most are on the lower end of the $$ scale. The last time I checked, 85% of the babies born at Parkland Hospital were to illegal immigrant mothers.

    • Mavdog

      Frankly, I couldn’t care less if a homeless person is a citizen or not. They are homeless and they need help. Checking which country they have citizenship in doesn’t change the fact they have no shelter.

      • DubiousBrother

        I didn’t say anything about the homeless people’s citizenship – my point is that the illegal immigrants are sucking up resources that could be used to more effectively deal with the homeless problem.

        • Mavdog

          ahh, so your comment “In order to consider any course of action on the homeless problem it is necessary to know how many people living in Dallas are in this country illegally?” is not to ask how many of the homeless might be illegal residents, but simply an expression of your desire to know how many people living in Dallas are illegal residents.

          IOW your comment has nothing to do with the issue of homelessness, but rather your taking an opportunity to insert the issue of illegal residents into a discussion of the homeless issue.

          thanks for clearing that up.

          • DubiousBrother

            Let’s say that the cost of having a baby at Parkland averages $5,000 which is probably way low since a premature baby cost can run $500,000. If they deliver 15,000 babies a year and 80% are from illegal mothers, that would be 12,000. 12,000 babies at $5,000 would be $60,000,000 per year just from babies.
            What help could be provided to the homeless problem with that $5,000,000 per month?

          • Angelica

            Who cares about their legal status? They still work and pay taxes and somehow can’t make ends meet. The fact that they don’t have insurance is the employers fault and the states fault for not participating in Obamacare. Focus on the real issues and take your political bullshit elsewhere. The problem is the surrounding suburbs continue to use city resources, like magnet schools without contributing to the tax base. The rich are living off the poor.

          • DubiousBrother


          • Mavdog

            one, the figure is not “80% are from illegal mothers”.
            two, your remark on “a premature baby” is total BS.
            third, illegal residents pay property taxes to Dallas County and to Parkland Hospital, so they pull their weight.
            fourth, this is about the City of Dallas. Dallas County, who funds Parkland, isn’t involved with the homeless initiative.
            fifth, the subject is homelessness, which has zero to do with illegal residents or Dallas County/Parkland Hospital, other than the homeless do not pay property taxes to Dallas County/Parkland Hospital as they do not own nor rent property.

            but don’t let those facts stop you from continuing on with your ad nauseum campaign to make everything about illegal residents, all the time. when you can contribute to the discussion on homelessness please feel free to do so.

          • DubiousBrother

            If the 80% is wrong what is the correct percentage?
            When I visited Parkland’s intensive care nursery, they had a premature baby that barely weighed a pound at birth and cost according to the staff person close to $1 million. If that was BS it came from them, not me.
            Illegal residents are illegal.
            I used Parkland as an example of the $$ drain illegals cause, there are homeless people outside of Dallas but inside Dallas County too.
            The city is financially strapped and illegals are part of the problem and are included in the “poor” statistics shown in the original post. Why pretend they aren’t problematic?

          • Mavdog

            The last number was <70%.
            Premature does not mean NICU. Some premature babies go to NICU, as some full term babies go to NICU. You are conflating 2 separate items.
            No, "illegals" are not "a problem". The fact there are illegal residents in Dallas is not causing the City to be "financially strapped".

          • DubiousBrother

            Are we to be comfortable with 70% of the cost going to babies of illegals?
            I am not conflating anything – at the time we were in the NICU and one of the babies was a little over a pound and thus the discussion about the cost. The mother was illegal and the cost of saving the baby was enormous. The hospital doesn’t deal with citizenship – they do their job and provide health care.
            Illegals take jobs from legals, they take housing from legals and they take benefits including medical care. An enormous amount of cash is being sent back to Mexico monthly which is taken directly from the Dallas economy.
            The Black community has high unemployment especially for young men and they are the ones that are affected the most by illegals. It is a problem and does affect resources for the homeless.

          • Mavdog

            Let’s recap:
            You were wrong on the amount of births by illegal residents at Parkland, your were inaccurate about premature births requiring NICU, you are wrong in introducing the subject of illegal residents into the issue of homelessness.
            What a troika of mistakes! congrats.

          • DubiousBrother

            Wrong#1? Actually when I took the tour it was 80% – not sure if less than 70% is accurate but I will take your word for it. So over the last 17 years they have delivered 176,000 babies to illegal mothers at a cost of $880 million dollars. Ask your homeless czar what could have been accomplished over the last 17 years working with the homeless with that $880 million.
            Wrong #2? “However, most babies born after about 26 weeks’ gestation do survive to one year (about 80 percent of those born at 26 weeks and about 90 percent of those born at 27 weeks), although they may face an extended stay in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).”
            Wrong#3 – Allocating resources to take care of foreigners who are here illegally instead of taking care of the homeless is bad policy.

          • Mavdog

            Your attempt to conflate two distinct and separate issues, illegal residents and homelessness, is fruitless.
            When you wish to address the issue of homelessness, and how the community can best respond to the needs of those who are homeless, let us know.

        • JamieT

          You know what would be so cool? If Dallas could spend the same dollar twice, first on health care for citizens of other countries so those countries wouldn’t have to tax their own people for those costs, then on homeless American veterans and other homeless people here.

          Can either of you explain how to do that? Otherwise, it seems to me we have to spend a first dollar on the nice Mexican lady giving birth here – because why wouldn’t she? Love won’t wait – and then spend a second, different dollar on the homeless American vet.

          Wait a minute. Will those two different dollars even be available if we have to bail out the pension fund? Well, no matter, we can always raise more dollars by raising more taxes.

          Wait a minute. By raising more taxes on whom? Hmmm…only those people still here to have their taxes raised. Like that nice Mexican lady giving birth.

          • Mavdog

            Jamie, the “nice Mexican lady giving birth here” would be part of the 341K hispanic households living in Dallas County. Those 341K households paid approximately $1.13 Billion in property taxes to Dallas County and Parkland Hospital in 2015. It seems the hispanic community is certainly paying their share of the costs for Parkland, and for covering the costs of that “nice Mexican lady” or any other uninsured woman of that community who gives birth at Parkland.

            At the same time Dallas County is not spending funds on that “homeless American vet”. The City of Dallas is budgeting $16.6 Million in fiscal 2017 for services to the approx. 17,500 homeless, or about $7,950 per person which may include some “homeless American vet”.

            Of course, Dallas County doesn’t have any involvement in the Police and Fire Pension Fund, so that situation doesn’t affect their or Parkland’s finances. As the City doesn’t fund Parkland, the “nice Mexican lady giving birth here” doesn’t have any influence in how the City of Dallas will deal with the Police and Fire Pension Fund mess.

            While $17 Million is a considerable amount of money, it doesn’t compare with the amount of funds the Police and Fire Pension Fund mess will require to be solved.

  • So, what you’re saying is… the churches in Dallas have done a great job reaching out and helping the poor. There’s something in the Bible about that, if I’m not mistaken. Oh wait. No? Maybe the city should do something.

  • mrEmannE

    I wanted to attend this meeting, but I didn’t make it. Stayed up too late Sunday night and overslept Monday morning. Apparently, though, I’m not the only one that wasn’t feeling like it; I understand four councilpersons got up and walked out, leaving the meeting without a quorum and shutting it down.
    I guess it was just #TooMuchReality for a Monday morning.

  • pokerphd

    Kind of telling that the 2 more popular stories in D ahead of this one are “Inside Kappa Alpha Theta’s $7.3 Million Sorority House at SMU” and “100 Things To Do For Christmas in Dallas.” I doubt if either is front and center on the mind of someone who doesn’t know where or if they will sleep safely (or at all) tonight.

  • JamieT

    What a wonderful, heartfelt topic to blog about. I enjoyed reading these writings immensely.

  • MJ

    How efficient is the Compassion Industry in Dallas? Is anyone reviewing the management of the millions of dollars pouring into this issue? How much has been spent on what services? What are the success measures? What’s working and whats not working? I believe the beat is “Livable Cities” How is this working for the neighborhoods impacted by the concentration of services?

  • Andrew Oram

    .02% of people who work full time live in poverty. So instead of throwing money for welfare benefits, why don’t we work to increase full-time employment?