Census data on those experiencing poverty in Tarrant County highlights the disparities between cities in the region.
According to the 2019 American Community Survey 5-year estimate by the US Census Bureau, there were 241,703 (11.9%) people in Tarrant County’s population of 2,023,452 who reportedly lived below the poverty line.
This information helps social service agencies determine the needs of the most vulnerable and design programs to help them.
The national poverty rate was 10.5% and Texas was 13.6% in 2019. Even though Tarrant County was slightly above the national average, some cities were twice as high.
Rose Bradshaw, president and CEO of the North Texas Community Foundation, said reliable data on Tarrant County’s employment, education and economy is needed to guide future investments.
âCensus data can help us identify the most strategic and urgent areas for intervention and allow us to track progress over time,â Bradshaw said. âThe main challenge is to turn data into actionable information that local residents and elected officials can use to solve the problems our community faces – and capitalize on the opportunities that lie before us. “
The census reported that 14.5% of Fort Worth’s 858,543 residents lived below the poverty line, according to the survey estimate. Three towns in the county have residents living in poverty at least twice the national poverty rate: Forest Hill, Pelican Bay and Everman. Forest Hill, a town of 12,974 residents, had the highest poverty rate at 25.4%.
The five-year estimates are based on data collected over a period of time for the region in question.
Many agencies focusing on food insecurity, health and child care issues use this type of data to understand the various factors that can cause a person to have a certain need and develop programs to address the issues.
Why is the poverty rate important?
According to the US Census Bureau, the 2019 national poverty rate was the lowest since the release of estimates in 1959. The country had 34 million people living in poverty in 2019. The median household income was $ 68,708.
The US Department of Health and Human Services designates poverty guidelines annually. However, the census uses a different method to determine who is living in poverty.
The federal agency determines poverty using a set of income cutoffs that vary by family size and composition. The definition of poverty includes pre-tax money, but does not include capital gains or non-monetary benefits like food stamps.
United Way for Tarrant County examines several types of poverty data, including census data. Faye Beaulieu, the agency’s senior vice president of community investments, said she was examining statistics for the free meals program and the number of people living just above the poverty rate.
âResources are limited,â Beaulieu said. âYou have to target them where you can do the most good. “
For Centraide, the number of people who live just above the poverty line is important because they are only one crisis away from needing help. The agency qualifies this group of Limited Assets, Limited Income, Employees (ALICE). They struggle to achieve basic needs: shelter, food, transportation, child care, health care and necessary technology.
Many of these people work in the service and hospitality industry, are childcare workers and babysitters. Beaulieu said many were the first to lose their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to United Way’s 2018 ALICE report, 25% of Tarrant County residents are only one poverty crisis away. A crisis could be a big expense involving transportation, child care, or health. Beaulieu said people considered ALICE find it difficult to plan for their future, such as college, home ownership or retirement.
Fight against food insecurity
The North Texas Community Foundation said there are three ways to tackle poverty in the community: pathways to opportunity, coordinated services, and targeted outreach. Partnerships like Tarrant To and Through (T3) provide students with training to help in the workforce.
Organizations should consider creating personalized strategies to connect economically vulnerable people to resources and opportunities, said Taylor Snyder, strategic communications coordinator for the North Texas Community Foundation.
Feeding America sends an annual report to the Tarrant Area Food Bank that includes various information broken down by zip code, including data on poverty, population size, and other statistics.
âThis tells us how many people we have to try to support and help tackle food insecurity,â said Julie Butner, CEO and President of the Tarrant area food bank. The food bank serves 13 counties.
The organization uses the number of people in need gathered by the report to determine how much food it should expect to distribute to partners. It also helps them decide what changes need to be made to the strategic plan.
Upon reviewing the report, the food bank learned that it was not serving rural areas sufficiently. This led to his decision to create a satellite facility in Parker County.
Help the children
One in six children in the United States lived in poverty in 2018, according to the Children’s Defense Fund.
The organization said children who live in poverty are more likely to perform poorly in school, fail to graduate from high school and become involved in the criminal justice system.
Child Care Associates, a Fort Worth-based organization, deals with early childhood education and child care issues for children of all backgrounds in the area. Kara Waddell, CEO and President, said information on child poverty is one of the many factors she uses to guide services. She said there are concentrations of needs for children and families in the county.
âFor example, when I arrived in Fort Worth over 7 years ago, I pulled data on child poverty as well as data on school performance and asked our team aloud: “How fast can we meaningfully engage in Everman?” “,” Said Waddell. âWe saw the need and the opportunity to work closely with the community and the school districtâ¦ and this partnership is flourishing today. “
According to the survey, Everman had a poverty rate of 20.4%.
Child Care Associates has several sites and school district partnerships across the county, including in areas with the highest levels of poverty such as Everman, Forest Hill, Fort Worth and Haltom City.
The medical community is examining the data to determine the best way to approach health and its related concerns. Cook Children’s and Texas Health considered the poverty rate when performing previous community assessments.
Looking at community needs in 2018, Cook Children’s Center for Children’s Health used the County Health Ranking Model as a tool to determine the various factors that influence health needs. According to the model, created by the Population Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, social and economic factors influence a person’s health outcomes by 40%.
Postal codes with high poverty and health needs
In its 2019 report, Texas Health looked at how cities in the Dallas-Fort Worth area entered the Social Needs Index which takes into account income, poverty, unemployment, occupation, level of employment. education and language issues to understand possible poor health outcomes.
According to the Texas Health report, two of the many zip codes with higher need levels were 76119 and 76010.
The American Community Survey 2019 5-year estimate indicated that there were 50,180 people in Fort Worth, Forest Hill and Arlington who lived at 76,119. The area had a poverty rate of 26.9%. The postal code had 64% living below the ALICE threshold, according to the 2018 United Way ALICE report.
Postal code 76010 had 58,284 people living within its boundaries that surround Arlington and Grand Prairie. The survey indicated that 29.3% lived in poverty. According to the United Way ALICE 2018 report, 65% of residents were living below the ALICE threshold.
Texas Health held focus groups to better understand issues affecting residents. By 76119, there were a high number of new HIV diagnoses, problems accessing transportation due to cost and time, many cases of untreated mental health issues, and limited access to affordable housing.
He learned that residents of 76010 were unaware of available benefits, limited access to transportation and dental care, and needed affordable housing for the elderly.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported on disparities between residents living in neighborhoods that fall under ZIP code 76104. According to 2019 census data, the area with 17,869 residents had a poverty rate of 33.9 percent. In United Way’s 2018 ALICE report, the agency said 70% were below the ALICE threshold.
To learn more about the poverty rate in your city, visit: https://data.census.gov/cedsci/