This map shows child poverty rates by census tract. The darkest orange areas are where more than 50 percent of children live in poverty. Via U.S. Census American Community Survey (2011-2015) / Opportunity Dallas.

Politics & Government

Dallas’ Poverty Problem Is a Segregation Problem

Why Dallas, one of the most segregated cities in the country, needs a comprehensive housing policy.

Widening income inequality and tightening economic mobility have eaten away at the American Dream. And in Dallas, the dwindling land of opportunity is geographically limited to the predominantly white residents of the city’s northern census tracts. For others, poverty is a trap sprung at birth, with little hope of escape.

That’s just one of several disheartening takeaways from a presentation given Monday to the city’s human and social needs committee by Mike Koprowski, the executive director of Opportunity Dallas, a nonprofit formed earlier this year to take on issues of poverty and segregation.

Koprowski made clear that the problems are closely intertwined, calling segregation “ground zero in the fight against poverty.” To make his case, he cited some depressingly familiar statistics about Dallas’ “obscene” poverty level, as well as one data point that highlights just how isolated the city’s most impoverished residents are: half of the city’s census tracts are home to 90 percent of Dallas’ children in poverty. In other words, “half of the city houses almost all of the poor children in Dallas.”

Segregation, reinforced by years of racist housing policies and other discriminatory actions, remains the biggest barrier to economic mobility, Koprowski says. We’re all products of our environments. Where we live dictates our opportunities for education and work, it shapes our quality of life, it determines our access to grocery stores and doctors and banks.

Dallas is, on paper and from a distance, a diverse city. But at ground level, it’s more segregated along racial and economic lines than Chicago and Los Angeles, according to the Pew Research Center.

To illustrate how “opportunity has been racialized in Dallas,” Koprowski and his team developed what they’re calling an “Opportunity Index,” charting neighborhood inequality in the city. Their criteria include economics (median household income, poverty rate), education (school performance, percent of residents with a bachelor’s degree), environment (neighborhood crime, property appraisals), and access (average commute time, nearby jobs, number of quality restaurants in a neighborhood).

Using that system, the city can be broken up into four distinct “opportunity zones.”

Click image to enlarge. Via Opportunity Dallas.

Here’s another graph comparing the “high opportunity” areas with the impoverished “focus areas.”

Click image to enlarge. Via Opportunity Dallas

So how do we change this, making Dallas more integrated and equitable?

Programs to address poverty can only do so much unless the city grapples with structural segregation in schools and housing. “We cannot program our way out of this one,” Koprowski says. To that end, Opportunity Dallas has made suggestions. To integrate schools, Koprowski encouraged open enrollment, new attendance boundaries not drawn along neighborhood lines, and a “diversity-by-design” admissions process.

First off, Koprowski says, Dallas needs a comprehensive housing policy, one that will, according to a resolution released by Opportunity Dallas, take a “holistic approach” to revitalizing neighborhoods, one that includes public investment in poverty-stricken neighborhoods, a focus on developing mixed-income housing, and “guardrails” against gentrification. Residents of “focus areas” should be given access to higher-opportunity areas while working to improve improve the neighborhoods that need it. If you’ve got the time to read it, the nonprofit put together a longer proposed “framework” for such a policy.

At the very least, a housing policy would help guide and coordinate the many public and private agencies working to curb poverty in Dallas. The city is indeed working on such a policy. There also needs to be discussion of some of the other factors driving poverty — transportation, for example. But if Koprowski is right (and he has the numbers to back it up) than any serious effort to alleviate poverty needs to start with housing and segregation.

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Comments

  • Los_Politico

    Koprowski lives in a mcmansion in a segregated neighborhood (according to his statistics), why should we be listening to him?

    I also challenge the notion that this is a Dallas problem. This is a DFW problem and lower income people need to be spread out farther into the suburbs. DFW has 15% childhood poverty, Dallas has 30%– that means if we want to end segregation we need to get more poor kids into “opportunity areas” in Collin and Rockwall Counties. A couple of section 8 houses in Preston Hollow wont do anything but pay Koprowski’s mortgage.

    • Vermont Royster

      hey ace—Frisco aka N Dallas needs more housing for the lower income but the board in Frisco will NOT approved–only one project in the last 5 years and the racist cracker elites of Frisco complained about that–McKinney just finished building a great complex for the low income—but frisco—-just another elitist cracker mentality that pays slave wages to the poor that work in all the overpriced restaurants in Frisco, Legacy & Others

      • sherwood

        Your racist name-calling is never going to bring people together. It’s obvious you hate all white people. Enjoy stewing in your bile of despicable bigotry.

        • Vermont Royster

          hey sherwood–bring ppl together—the POS man in my white house is a divider and the bigot and if u voted 4 him–ur the bigot cracker

          • MaximumUniverse

            LOL. Pathetic comeback. Go back to school, educate yourself, then try to have a civilized conversation instead of this childish name-calling.

        • RompingWillyBilly

          Linguistically speaking, out in the real cruel world, a real word has two meanings. While one is its black and white evil definition, the other more colorful meaning in a more adult world exists as a necessary evil.
          Take the act of murder for example. While it is wrong to murder, acts of killing happen all the time in wars.
          Therefore, “racism” hasn’t yet developed into a real word.

      • nbgiant25

        I’m sure calling people “racist cracker elites” will solve the problem in no time. How has that worked out so far?

    • Vermont Royster

      they can’t spread out because the rents r too high resulting from the wall street corporations and REITS who have bought up all the desirable apartments in N Dallas and then flip them for profit and the new owner just raises the rents and this buying and flipping has been going on for 5 years—furthermore the new corporate owners have tightenthe income restrictions on the ability to rent

  • The problem is, none of the science supports this method.

    Putting marginal kids in a high performing school does not transform them into high performing students. It transforms the high performing students into marginal students. Putting low income people in a high income neighborhood doesn’t teach them the skills you need to be high income — it simply runs out the high income families and drives down values.

    The only thing that has ever helped is separate Talented and Gifted programs that are based on impartial testing. If you rely on teachers for recommendations, then minority students are selected against (because their teachers don’t refer them) but if you use impartial testing, you identify many more brown and black gifted students. Get THOSE students into high-performing schools, and you can at least help some.

    • Sam S.

      Talented & Gifted programs mean nothing. You want students to do better then teach them. Teachers need to be hard nosed, demanding teachers who ARE NOT going to MAKE EXCUSES for students, nor are they going to ACCEPT EXCUSES

      • Jack Blacker

        Wow! So white folks are just innately smarter than colored folks, huh? Phelps – You are part of the problem! And take your opinions back to the 50’s with you!

        • The science is settled.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_and_intelligence#United_States_test_scores

          If you deny the science, YOU are part of the problem. We aren’t helping ANYONE by denying the facts. In a group of 10 white kids, five are going to be above 100. In a group of black kids, 1 of them is going to be above 100. Why are we going to punish those five white kids AND that one black kid just to make a few science-deniers feel better about the world?

          If you won’t face this reality, your delusion is carried on the backs of children who are prevented from succeeding.

          • Jack Blacker

            Phelps – Can you interpret English? Its environment that is the main contributor to any possible differences, and your intention is to keep it that way by segregating the races, which includes restricting blacks to low-opportunity areas such as the Southern Sector. As stated below your justifying your blatant racism.

            “Currently, there is no non-circumstantial evidence that these differences in test scores have a genetic component, although some researchers believe that the existing circumstantial evidence makes it at least plausible that hard evidence for a genetic component will eventually be found.”

            “Claims of races having different intelligence were used to justify colonialism, slavery, racism, social Darwinism, and racial eugenics. Racial thinkers such as Arthur de Gobineau relied crucially on the assumption that black people were innately inferior to whites in developing their ideologies of white supremacy. Even enlightenment thinkers such as Thomas Jefferson, a slave owner, believed blacks to be innately inferior to whites in physique and intellect.[1]”

          • Fine, it’s environment.

            What now?

            If it is environment (and the hereditary nature makes it certain that at least PART of IQ is genetic, and separated twin studies put it at 90%+) then it is locked in before a child ever gets into school. The environmental nature seems to be entirely related to maternal care — how and how much the child is talked to, whether or not the child is exposed to abstractions, etc. I’m not here to judge black mothers, but maybe that’s your game.

            So we can do one of two things — we can go with your “Jack feels better but the children are screwed” method that ignores the fact that each person has an individual capacity, or we can group children by ability so that EVERY child can succeed (because if educated properly, there is no reason an IQ 90 child can’t have a complete high school education.)

          • RompingWillyBilly

            But Asians aren’t just segregated, but tend to prefer it that way. Yet, they not only match the so-called blue, brown, and green eyed, blonde, red headed, brunette, and black haired, and light, dark, and freckled complected with all this diversity being white people, but better them.
            See, education is a race. The process needs to be completed by the grade of high school. This way the standard won’t erode.
            Today, because of a lot of hot pink liberal and baby blue conservative political nonsense, the students are being graduated confused. To get them turned around, intro classes have to be created. In such classes, the professors have to go to war with the students dispelling fallacies wrought into them by naive grade school teachers.

    • RompingWillyBilly

      In and of itself, science as an endeavor was never intended to be an end but a means. Simply put, Aristotle hated the way his fellow Greeks treated the other lifeforms of plants and animals. He created his many rational methods to prove they possessed souls. After all, man him and herself posessed a soul. Aristotle’s rational methods were intended to convince the sophisticated that mankind is a member of the animal kingdom. The concept of “science” was born out from that noble end.
      In fact, science didn’t begin to really take hold in Western Europe until the time of Galileo. Even still, scientists weren’t called scientists during and after his time, but took on the catholic given title of natural philosophers.

  • >> “guardrails” against gentrification.

    Right. Because diversity is only good when it is black people moving into white neighborhood, NOT when white people move into black neighborhoods.

    • Vermont Royster

      wow–U R a Bigoted Cracker–I no u voted for the POS in my white house

      • MaximumUniverse

        Vermont, do you have an education beyond the second grade? You couldn’t spell to save your sorry life. LOL.

        • Vermont Royster

          sure do–Yale & SMU graduate –lived in since 60 and saw teh wanted dead or alive posters for treason on telephone poles when JFK came here—BIG D was racist then and it still is CRACKER

          • MaximumUniverse

            LOL. the crack you seem to know is the stuff you fire up in that pipe you’re smoking. I always knew SMU was a sh!t school. LOL.

          • Vermont Royster

            yep— i know a hell alot more than u do cracker jack and while u learned to financially gang rape the poor I was overseas for 3 years and when my daddy died out in odessa and before he sold his land and oil properties to the jew swarztsman or whatever that thief is called— I don’t have do do alot except call it in and eat at NICKS and anywhere of my choosing–we might meet and I will certainly educate ur cracker arse about D histoy–suck on it cracker jack

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    • RompingWillyBilly

      From the point of view of a woman prospecting for a man, another woman competitor with blonde hair and blues eyes will always be
      difficult to beat because, like gold, of the rarity of her traits. Yet, if a white woman was extremely dark complected, that would make her very special.
      The problem arises from the absolute colors of black and white. Such are a fallacy. In truth, as a color spectrum reveals, we are all green in the middle.

      • You want the ones that are red in the middle. Once they’ve turned green in the middle, they are way, WAY expired.

        • RompingWillyBilly

          Green is the color at the center of the spectrum. Think about it. If white reflects all light, it should appear as a mirror reflecting all things. Meanwhile, black would absorb all the colors of the spectrum. Think of a person born blind? Having never seen such a color, they wouldn’t be able to conceive of such a color.
          In the end, black and white people are neither black nor white. Such a conclusion is a fallacy.

          • And black and white aren’t actually colors.

            Congrats on not getting the joke.

          • RompingWillyBilly

            Indeed, and we are taught that fallacy. There is no limit to the color spectrum. There are many colors that we are blind to. The problem arises in how we rationalize. We think in terms of mutually exclusive dichotomies because our minds are finite.
            Think of the color issue in terms of plants. Scientifically, one could argue that they are our parents. Their pumping heart exists far off in the universe as the sun. They go to battle to stretch out to receive its light.
            And what color do they reflect? Why, its the same color residing at the center of the spectrum.
            Green.

  • Vermont Royster

    PPL that complain about this article are nothing more than cracker elitist –Dallas has a MAJOR housing and income inequality aka slave wages —D mag should address more social issues vs catering to the elite that advertise in their mag

    • Sam S.

      You don’t want to receive what you define as “slave wages” then get your education. If you don’t want to go to college, fine but there are consequences, i.e. slave wages and its a little harder climb. But you invest in life long learning, i.e. take specific educational classes that help in your career, take on additional responsibilities outside your core responsibilities and have the right attitude and demeanor. Eventually you will be promoted but its a marathon not a sprint. Restaurant workers, retail, fast food and other minimum wage jobs are never going to get bumped to making $25+/hr. Companies are going to invest in robots/Artificial Intelligence before they ever increase minimum wage significantly.

      • Vermont Royster

        slave wages r $7.75 per hour and thats what these companies pay–slave wages by the cracker elite of Frisco where th epoor have to go to to get a job—the poor cook ur food up in Frisco and they r deserving of $10 per hour when these restaurants are charging the prices thet are for NADA

      • Vermont Royster

        ur right about that AI–just another financial gang rape of the poor and more income inequality

        • sherwood

          Perhaps staying in school and culturally celebrating education, instead of the gangsta lifestyle, would elevate minority kids from this senseless path of economic misery.

          • Vermont Royster

            and ur kids go 2 private schools—hypocrite cracker

          • MaximumUniverse

            ….and you couldn’t spell your way out of a paper bag. Your celebration of racism and ignorance is truly pathetic. Please don’t move into my neighborhood…..not to worry. You couldn’t afford it. LOL. BTW, could you supersize my next order?

          • Vermont Royster

            don’y worry but someone will and the knock on ur door will not be a creditor—HAHAHA Cracker jack

          • Vermont Royster

            perhaps u should pay ur share in taxes so there would b better scholls vs sending ur’s 2 private

          • MaximumUniverse

            I pay more taxes annually than what you make in 10 years. Get off the dole, I’m tired of paying for your lazy ass freeloading life. Sucka.

          • Vermont Royster

            i don’t have to work-my daddy in odessa sold all his oil and land to teh jew schartzman years ago—-I just call it in and eat at NICKS–get a life u financially gang aping thief

  • Mavdog

    Koprowski is correct in his suggestions.
    The 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) given to fourth graders in math, for example, low-income students attending more affluent schools scored roughly two years of learning ahead of low-income students in high-poverty schools.

    A lower income student does not equate them being a “marginal student” or low performing student, a study found that students in mixed-income schools showed 30 percent more growth in test scores over their four years in high school than peers with similar socioeconomic backgrounds in schools with concentrated poverty.

  • sherwood

    Newsflash: White students make up 4% of DISD enrollment, which is in line with most urban school districts in the country. Public education is no longer a viable option. White students will not be returning in the foreseeable future. Now black students are leaving DISD as black families are leaving Dallas for the suburbs, like Duncanville & DeSoto. It’s a new phenomenon called “Black flight”, which has been going on in Southern California for the past five to six years.

    • Vermont Royster

      they move cause they can’t pay the rents u financial gang raping thieves charge—hey bigot –put a 9 in ur arse

      • MaximumUniverse

        Yep, always shootin’ people. Violence suits your sub-human BS.

        • Vermont Royster

          when u spend 3 years in teh jungles u learn to take care of crap like u–its real east

          • jrd

            Verm and Max,
            Sitting in a tree,
            K-i-s-s-i-n-g.

  • Vermont Royster

    u r so stupid and have ur brain in the panties—-frshin up down there–the poor and immigrants travel 40 miles (RT) per day to work in these restaurants in Norton Dallas for $ 7.75 BECAUSE fixing ur overpriced food. They live in the poorest areas of Dallas as Dallas has Gentrified them and especially North Dallas where there is NO affordable housings and none is being built– u r one stupid bigoted cracker elite–get a life or check out

  • Point of order: many slaves did make wages. They just didn’t get to pick their job.

    http://www.historyextra.com/qa/slave-labour

    • Vermont Royster

      fu ku u bigot–put a 9 in ur head and check out

  • RompingWillyBilly

    Plato once concluded that the most formal of truths is more important than the informal aspects of life itself. Taking this a step further, the act of perpetuating lies would be many times worse than death. The deceit pertaining to inequality in the city of Dallas has long been a ruse utilized by officials to forever keep the citizens of south Dallas in the dark blinded by a veil of poverty.
    Government has never managed to do a thing. At best, it can circumcise its authority reducing itself to that extent which is most ideal relative to the productive people.

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  • bbetzen

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b381b8d2642a1905b4d2b27dc0bc30c42ba9bcd73fdbd5df2c32a47715f66dfa.jpg I have lived for 42 years in one of the Redbird “Focus” areas that are on Mr. Koprowski’s map. His work is valuable and worth paying attention to, but like any attempt to divide people and neighborhoods by demographic variables, it is only a trend in the data. We must never forget the weakness of such data while acknowledging the value of it.

    If you look at this list ordered by School Effectiveness Indices you will find that the majority of the highest performing middle schools, those with students advancing the most, are all in focus areas on the south side of Dallas. They are also active Time Capsule Project schools. Nothing will end poverty faster than students who work hard in school and close the achievement gap with more affluent schools. We are doing that by having students communicate in writing with their parents about dreams for the future and family history.

    Connecting students with their roots and having them annually update in writing their plans for the future activates student motivation that has been too rare in our schools. Notice the last three years history of progress for the 4 of 6 of these schools. They have a history of being failing schools. That is no longer happening! This will end poverty faster and more permanently than anything else we can do, and it costs taxpayers NOTHING, unless we do not do it. If you want to volunteer to run a Time Capsule Project in the school near you (the project works at all levels of education) contact us: http://www.StudentMotivation.org or at the LULAC National Education Service Center – Dallas.

  • RompingWillyBilly

    The word slave originated from the Eastern European word Slav. Such a term utilized by western Europeans against their Eastern brothers was just as derogatory as the expression of the N-word today. Back during the time of serfdom, a nameless and faceless commoner was restricted to certain land for life. If found outside his restricted land, he or she could be killed. This is why the Scottish “nobles” were the ones riding horses in the movie Braveheart. They were allowed to travel freely.
    People had to work as Indentured Servants to pay for a ticket to travel to the New World to get away from such nonsense.
    To maintain such a caste system of bondage, the first born of every commoner family were deployed into the monarchy to work for them.
    Suffering and persecution in history isn’t a black thing. To give a black face to it belittles the long suffering struggle by the people in general.
    In fact, if a trophy were to ever be awarded for the most put upon, again that should go to the Eastern European Slavic people.