Today, despite the significant progress we have made during the past half-century in fostering equality of opportunity for all Americans irrespective of skin color or national origin, institutional policies and practices that yield racially disparate outcomes persist. Nowhere is this more obvious than in patterns of residential segregation that remain the norm in our society. These patterns have tragic consequences. Prior research by the Joint Center and others has illuminated the challenges that residential segregation poses to the ideal of equal opportunity for all. This report documents the changes in the number and percentage of people, by race and poverty status, living in high-poverty neighborhoods between 1970 and 2005-2009. It examines changes over time in all 366 current (2010) metropolitan statistical areas in the United States, excluding Puerto Rico, and it reports on these changes by age, race, and poverty status. It also investigates more recent changes in the number and percent of foreign-born residents living in low, medium, high, and extreme poverty neighborhoods. We believe this study is groundbreaking in its examination of trends since the landmark housing and civil rights legislation of the 1960s that attempted to address some of the nation’s urban ills. Because research also shows that high-poverty neighborhoods restrict opportunity for all who reside in them, it is our hope that the findings in this document will provide guidance for advocates and policy-makers as they grapple with ways in which to level the playing field for all of our citizens.
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