In Dallas-Fort Worth Suburbs, Poverty is Skyrocketing

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Housing prices are skyrocketing in the Dallas metro area, and while poverty is on the upswing everywhere, there’s tremendous growth in the suburbs.

As home prices rise in Dallas-Fort Worth, those who can least afford the commensurate increases in rent and taxes have taken off for the suburbs. According to data from Harvard University’s Joint Center on Housing Studies, while poverty has grown in both urban and suburban areas in North Texas, it has increased far quicker in areas with less density. 

Apartment List took a closer look at the numbers and concluded that many Southern metros are seeing an astronomical increase in poverty among low-density, suburban areas. Between 2000 and 2015, the number of high-poverty suburban neighborhoods in Dallas went up by 105 percent, totaling 233 high-poverty, low-density tracts. The Dallas MSA is only second to Atlanta in its newfound concentration of poverty in the suburbs.

Over a 15-year period from 2000 to 2015, the Harvard data reveals, poverty increased across the United States in neighborhoods within metropolitan areas classified as “low-density,” “medium-density” and “high-density,” as well as in rural areas outside metros. While a larger share of the country’s poor population lives in dense urban areas than any other neighborhood type, poverty is becoming increasingly suburban, as the share of the poor population in low-density and medium-density urban areas, considered “suburban,” grows.

The majority of the poor population living in high-poverty neighborhoods no longer lives in dense urban areas. In 2000, about 51 percent of the poor population living in high-poverty neighborhoods resided in dense urban areas, but by 2015, this figure dropped to about 43 percent. Furthermore, in 85 percent of metros, a smaller share of the population living in high-poverty neighborhoods resided in dense neighborhoods in 2015, compared to 15 years earlier.

So the economic gap between low-income households and upper class households is widening, and the results are dramatic. And poverty is widely considered an urban problem, as is homelessness, though both issues are becoming more and more prevalent — and harder to ignore — in the suburbs. So why is poverty growing in suburban areas? A lot of it has to do with wage growth, as it’s harder to keep your head above water in a service industry position when housing costs increase while pay remains stagnant. Additionally, because the distance between many places requires the use of a car, which also requires upkeep, lack of transportation or transit worsens the problem. And when you need access to affordable healthcare? Well, in the suburbs, you’re out of luck as some Dallas-area bedroom communities refuse to pay their fair share.

According to ApartmentList, areas that are least dense but still considered “urban” saw the most dramatic increase in high-poverty neighborhoods. Imagine these to be the close-in suburbs, or places just outside of the reach of the high-end and moderately priced neighborhoods. And if this sudden growth of poverty in less dense areas is any indication of future trends, Dallas will need to get on the ball and stem the growth of blighted areas. 

And fast.



Joanna England

If Executive Editor Joanna England could house hunt forever, she absolutely would. Instead she covers the North Texas housing market and the economy for While she started out with the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University, Joanna's work has appeared in The Dallas Morning News as well as several local media outlets. When she's not knitting or hooping, or enjoying White Rock Lake, she's behind the lens of her camera. She lives in East Dallas with her husband, son, and their furry and feathered menagerie.

Reader Interactions


  1. Sidney Smith says

    “Least dense urban areas”. I guess that is open to interpretation on exactly what that means, but with the amount of gentrification going on in the urban areas of DFW, it’s not surprising. It just forces the people to move out a little bit further.

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