Good Public Transit

Dallas’ Poverty Problem Explained in a Single Map

Dallas won't be able to address income inequality until it tackles transit inequality.

This morning, Shima Hamidi, the Director of the Institute of Urban Studies at the University of Texas at Arlington’s College of Architecture, Planning and Public Affairs, briefed the Dallas City Council’s Quality of Life committee on transportation equality. If you have a few seconds, check out Hamidi’s whole Power Point. In includes a ton of fascinating maps and data sets (like the one above) that illustrate how issues like poverty, affordable housing, and public transit all fit together. For example, did you know that only 28.3 percent of affordable housing Dallas-Plano-Irving are actually affordable when the cost transportation is factored in?

That statistic sets up the significance of the map below, which I believe tells the story of Dallas’ income inequality better than any map I’ve ever seen. The orange shaded area shows the highest concentrations of people living in poverty; the red shows the places with the highest growth of low wage jobs. In a healthy society, the people in poverty should have access to the low-wage jobs so that they could start earning an income and working their way outside of poverty. In Dallas, however, the geographic gap between new jobs and an impoverished workforce is huge and it continues to expand with the region’s sprawl northwards.

I didn’t hear Hamidi’s presentation this morning, but the end of her Power Point suggests that her solution to this disparity is to rethink Dallas’ future growth both as it relates to transportation investments and incentivizing the development of denser, multi-modal urban communities. It’s a big task, but at least now we have the data that shows how solving Dallas’ lingering problems of transit and transportation are directly related to alleviating poverty.





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  • Los_Politico

    I thought we were supposed to hate DART now and give the money to cops instead. No?

  • ArlingtonsFinest

    I think the idea is to stop writing blank checks for DART as if we were actually satisfied with the way they have been spending it. And yes, I agree that public transit should provide access for anyone to get anywhere in the city, especially for the reasons above. But I also want to ask the deeper question posed by the map: why can’t businesses seeking low-wage labor seek out applicants in the southern sector, where a large yellow swath of untapped workforce already lives? Can’t be because they are all geographically tied to “natural resources” that are so much more abundant up in the northern exurbs. Or maybe this northern hotbed of jobs growth really is tied geographically…to the frontier of the crony capitalist developer bonanza, in which case the jobs will be gone by the time the public transit gets there. Okay, yes, we are supposed to hate DART and give the money to the cops.

  • CX

    That map is eyeopening. This type of growth is unsustainable.

  • Shelly Moon

    This is not just a transportation problem. It’s a planning and development issue in the cities looking for these workers. The city planners are often averse to providing appropriate housing for lower income individuals and families. Yet, you can’t really run a city, even a suburb, without having a diverse work force.

  • achalk

    What a poorly researched and badly thought through article.

    1) If the author had bothered to ride DART he would know that the poor do not use it. They drive. DART is only full at rush hour when it is carrying (unpoor) commuters between the suburbs and Dallas.

    2) The author confuses the STOCK of below-poverty-line people with the FLOW of new jobs. If the flow is 1% of the stock, no number of free Bentley’s to Frisco will be relevant to low-income people in south Dallas;

    3) Public transport, as currently implemented, is a 20th century idea. Ride-sharing is the major trend of the future (and one of the biggest sources of new income and jobs to populations like south Dallas). Dallas was enlightened enough to permit it, ignoring the self-interested claims of Big Taxi, but Ms. Hamidi could spend her time more usefully explaining its dual-sided benefits to the people of Austin, who were conned by Big Taxi into banning it (but will change their mind as other cities show by example).

  • stormyseaward

    This one map in NO WAY explains Dallas’ poverty problem. At all.