Boston's poor neighborhoods getting poorer

The Globe reports on a study by the Boston Foundation of poverty in Dorchester, Roxbury and Mattapan.

The report ties Boston to a global trend linking race, class, and income disparities. It also illustrates the toll exacted by the depressed economy in extremely poor communities plagued by inadequate health care, lack of jobs, and persistent crime.

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      Tell us the last time you saw

      Tell us the last time you saw a press release from a foundation showing that things were getting better for poor people.

      Based on media reports like this, things have been getting worse for the poor every year for decades now. Are poor people in Boston eating bugs? If all the foundation reports were true, all the poor people would be dead now. Kind of a self-evident truth, isn't it? You can only play the 'things are getting worse' card so often before you get to zero.

      So you believe that things

      So you believe that things have been getting worse for poor people in Boston for every one of the last forty years? I assume you think that poor people were living in castles forty years ago. Those poor people of the past were really living lives of luxury, eh? Rolling in money?

      The thing about being truly poor, is that you're close to zero income. And since zero is a constraining factor here, 'getting worse' really is limited, no? Unless you think poor people not only have no income this year, but actually give away money? Negative income?

      Your arithmetic teaches failed you - I'd ask for my money back. You can't go on subtracting positive numbers forever without passing zero.

      what the hell

      are you rambling on about?

      The cost of living and the price of the things that matter has risen over the rate of inflation for quite some time. At the same time wages have been stagnant and real wages have fallen due to inflation.

      You don't have to have 0 income to be poor. there's million more people that have fallen below the poverty line due to the decreasing value of their wages, and inability for the private sector to keep up.

      But yeah, your next arguments gonna be something about (dirt cheap) xboxes and cellphones, amirite? You know, the stuff that's actually decreased in cost exponentially through the years.

      who cares that property, fresh food, housing, cars, education and medical bills are through the roof. The stuff people need to live.

      You are an idiot

      Imagine I make $15,000/yr every year for the past 40 years. In 1970, it was enough to buy food, rent, and maybe even afford some recreation like going to a movie a month or something. In the 80s, I had to cut back on my movies and my food choices went from the occasional roast down to only ground beef. In the 90s, I started getting food stamps to make up for what inflation did to my food costs and I've had to pick a new apartment (glad my friends could help me move because I couldn't afford a mover) that was smaller because the rent jumped up on my old place. In the 00's, I've started skipping meals to cut down on food costs. I finally gave up my 20 year old car and had to change jobs to something closer to home. But, hey, at least by NotWhitey's metric I must not be worse off because I'm still making that $15k/yr, right?

      The Data

      Although it would not surprise me to learn that poverty had increased as the report details, it is a shame that the report appears to be based on the census bureau's statistics on individuals and families living below the official poverty line, which is widely recognized to be fundamentally flawed and outdated - including by the census bureau. There was an article in the NYT about this just last week or the week before. The census bureau is going to be issuing a report shortly based on alternative - and supposedly more reliable data - that shows a significantly smaller rise in poverty over the past ten years.

      It would not surprise me if

      It would not surprise me if the wages have dropped a bit since '90, but I think that discretionary income has most likely risen. It seems to me that the amount of social welfare programs available now dwarfs what was available 20 years ago. Add to that the massive amounts of money that have been pumped into the city to improve neighborhoods. HOPE VI funds, CDBG $$, private investment etc. etc.

      Comparing 2011 Boston to 1990 Boston is almost impossible. Just about every section of the city has improved by leaps and bounds over the past 20 years. I frankly find it very hard to believe that the city's poor have it worse now than in '90, no way.

      Really?

      I rented an apartment for $600 a month in 1990. Clean, newly renovated two bedroom in a two family, small yard, laundry, storage. Comfortable neighborhood near transit.

      Try that now.

      Last time I ran into my old landlord, he was getting $1500 a month for the place.

      When did rent control end, again?

      Thank you Swirly...

      for your wisdom and insight.

      It never ceases to amaze me (and also saddens me) how folks love to judge the poor. I am waiting now for the old stand by excuse - "people are poor because they are lazy." It can't be that far behind.

      1990?

      I'm not jumping on the blame-the-poor bandwagon by any means, but 1990 is twenty-two years ago--why would you be surprised that rents have gone up? I remember applying for a job that year at Coffee Connection (RIP) and the pay was something like $4 an hour--literally. And I remember what my current neighborhood was like in 1990--it had a certain raffish charm and there was certainly more affordable space for students, artists, etc. but it was also plagued with crime, graffiti, etc. etc. God knows I wish housing here was more affordable, but I don't think rent control (which placed the burden on landlords, not on govt) and seemed to provide inexpensive housing in cool neighborhoods for an awful lot of people who didnt truly need it (including Ken Reeves) was the answer. I'm just not remembering that things were so great in 1990...

      Really?

      Adjusting for inflation that apartment should be around $1000. That means 1/3 of the rent is pure profit / speculation on top of normal inflation.

      At the same time real wages (wages adjusted for inflation) are lower than they were in the 90's! People's purchasing power is less!

      Go down the list of the things that are important to live a quality life and one after another shows this increase in cost over what inflation normally is.

      As said above, you can buy dirt cheap ipods, xboxes and cellphones; but that's because they're cheap. $100 has a lot less value than it did in 1990.

      People used to push the same bullshit in the 1900's. The poor really weren't poor, because they could finally afford quality mass produced factory linen clothing. Hats and overcoats were their iPods and cellphones.

      you don't get it

      Paying $600 back in 1990 was a lot of money. $1500 now is a steal. You do realize that 1990 was over 20 years ago... right? My parents bought a house in 1970 for about $10,000. Of course they couldn't buy that same house now for that little money. Does this make sense to you?

      This is NOT to say that many

      This is NOT to say that many people don't have it really rough in our city, buuuuut........

      What I don't understand is how over the past 20 years many, many working class/poor areas of Boston turn into yuppie and college kid strongholds and the poverty rate goes up?

      Let's list the neighborhoods, shall we:

      Charlestown
      South Boston
      South End
      Jamaica Plain
      Mission Hill
      Fort Hill
      Large sections of Allston
      Large sections of Brighton
      North End

      That seems suspicious to me. While this report says that college students are not worked into the Census poverty rates, that is not really true. When you look at the Census poverty webpage it says "People in College dormitories" are not counted in the poverty rate. Well, as anyone who has grown up in the area knows, many neighborhoods that were family neighborhoods 20 years ago, are almost all filled with kids living off-campus. Many or most of those kids don't make more than $11k a year.

      Furthermore, from what I saw, the report never talked about how the poverty rate has changed in Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan. It talks about how the overall poverty rate has changed citywide (read, college kids living off-campus). However, it does go on to say that family rates of poverty have actually dropped since 1990. I think there is a lot that this report glances over, and is sloppy in it's presentation of the data.

      Boston in '89-'90 was at the tail end of 4 DECADES of disinvestment from the government and private business. The city was in the grip of a vicious crack epidemic and violent crime. Murder rates hit an all time high in 1991 and then dropped precipitously after that. They have come up again since the economy has gone south, but still it's not comparable.

      The city had the lowest unemployment and crime rates in forty years in the early 2000's. America moved back to the city, and and the results have been rather staggering. If the economy keeps on it's current track for another 5-10 years, stuff will get scary again. I just don't think a comparison can be made, it's a different world these days.

      Jesus

      The information in the report is pretty striking, and the ongoing disparities in this town, especially along color lines, never cease to amaze me.

      All those struggling individuals and families, it breaks my heart.

      I wonder how my main place of employment would respond to a food drive to benefit the Greater Boston Food Bank - has anyone else tried this? How did it go, what helped it to be successful?