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Economic Justice (Research)

Suburbanization of Poverty in the Bay Area

FRBDespite its persistent association with the "inner city," poverty has shifted toward the suburbs in the San Francisco Bay Area over the past decade. Using data from the 2000 census and the 2005-2009 ACS 5-year estimates, this research brief examines the changing geography of poverty in the Bay Area and its implications for the community development field. Using data from U.S. Census Bureau, this research brief analyzes the changing geography of poverty in the Bay Area, yielding the following conclusions: Household poverty rates have risen across the Bay Area, both in urban and suburban areas. The Bay Area’s total household poverty rate increased 1.1 percentage points during the period of analysis, from 2000 to 2009. The population in poverty rose faster in suburban census tracts and varied across racial groups and nativity status. The number of people living in poverty rose 16 percent in the suburbs, compared to 7 percent in urban areas. Blacks and Hispanics saw the greatest percentage growth in suburban poverty, as did the native?born population. The share of the poor living in suburban tracts has increased across all racial groups, but the change is highest among Blacks. The share of the poor Black population living in the suburbs increased more than 7 percentage points, whereas the next highest group, Asians, increased 2 percentage points. Changes in the percent of urban and suburban residents in poverty also varied between racial categories and nativity status. Poverty rates increased across almost all groups – except Asians and the foreign?born population living in suburban areas. The poverty rates for suburban Blacks and urban Hispanics each rose more than two percentage points. Access to transit decreased for the population in poverty. While the percent of people living within 0.5 miles of a rail station did not change significantly for the total population, it did decrease 1.5 percentage points for the poor population. Furthermore, the percentage of poor people living more than 4 miles from a rail station increased 3 percentage points.

Jumping Beyond the Broom: Why Black Gay and Transgender Americans Need More Than Marriage Equality


Liberty and justice for all is not yet a reality in America. Despite the election of our nation’s first African American president, black Americans continue to trail behind their white counterparts in education, employment, and overall health and wellbeing. And while some states and the federal government continue to expand protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, more than half of all states still deny them basic civil rights. Such systemic inequities render people of color who are also gay and transgender among the most vulnerable in our society. Black gay and transgender Americans in particular experience stark social, economic, and health disparities compared to the general population and their straight black and white gay counterparts. These issues, along with the others laid out in this report, can and should be addressed through a policy agenda that seeks to understand and tackle the structural barriers—discriminatory systems, conditions, and institutions around socioeconomic status, race, sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity—that perpetuate negative economic, health, and other life outcomes among this population.

State of the Dream 2012: The Emerging Majority

MLK Photo

The last thirty years of public policy have not produced significant progress toward Dr. Martin Luther King's dream of racial equality. According to the Census Bureau, people of color will collectively make up the majority of the population in 2042, thirty years from now. If the country continues along the path that it has been on for the last thirty years, the racial economic divide will remain in 2042 and, in many regards, will be considerably worse. This is the core message of United for a Fair Economy’s (UFE) ninth annual MLK Day report, State of the Dream 2012: The Emerging Majority. In 2042, thirty years from now, people of color will collectively represent the majority of the U.S. population. If we continue along the governing path of the last thirty years, the economic divide between races will remain and, in many regards, will be considerably worse. The Emerging Majority measures the impacts of the past thirty years of public policy on the racial divide, examining a host of social and economic indicators, including income, wealth, poverty, health care, homeownership, education and incarceration. The report then offers thirty-year projections based on data trends since the Reagan presidency. Its findings should prompt people of all races to unite in action for a more just and racially equitable future.

This Changes Everything; Occupy Wall Street and the 99% Movement

This Changes Everything Cover

The Occupy Wall Street movement named the core issue of our time: the overwhelming power of Wall Street and large corporations— something the political establishment and most media have long ignored.

But the movement goes far beyond this critique. This Changes Everything shows how the movement is shifting the way people view themselves and the world, the kind of society they believe is possible, and their own involvement in creating a society that works for the 99% rather than just the 1%.

Attempts to pigeonhole this decentralized, fast-evolving movement have led to confusion and misperception. In this volume, the editors of YES! Magazine bring together voices from inside and outside the protests to convey the issues, possibilities, and personalities associated with the Occupy Wall Street movement.

This book features contributions from Naomi Klein, David Korten, Rebecca Solnit, Ralph Nader, and others, as well as Occupy activists who were there from the beginning, such as David Graeber, Marina Sitrin and Hena Ashraf. It offers insights for those actively protesting or expressing support for the movement—and for the millions more who sympathize with the goal of a more equitable and democratic future.

YES! Magazine is donating royalties from this book to support the Occupy Wall Street/99% movement. Order the full book or download an excerpt below.

Avoiding Prison-based Gerrymandering

Avoiding Prison-based GerrymanderingIn general, prison populations have very little effect on the most lucrative formulas that support education or anti-poverty programs because those formulas are highly tailored to the need. Prison populations are not included in how the government calculates “household income” or “poverty” and most of the education formulas are based on the number children in the census or the number of children enrolled in the schools, etc., which the prison populations also do not affect. I know that this may be surprising, particularly given the Census Bureau’s overly simplistic rhetoric about why it is important for people to fill out Census forms. They are correct, of course, that each person on average represents about $1,400 per year in grants. But the overwhelming majority of this is block grants to the state of Illinois and not to individual municipalities. Prison populations play only a very minor part in the remainder, and none of those calculations are changed by how a county or municipality chooses to draw its legislative lines.

Workers and Communities Building Power Strategic Plan 2011- 2015


EBASEEBASE advances economic, racial and social justice by building a just economy in the East Bay based on good jobs and healthy communities. We address the root causes of economic injustice by developing strategic alliances among community, faith, and labor to build power and create change with low-income workers and communities of color. This strategic plan – created with input from EBASE’s board, staff, and allies – describes EBASE’s long-term vision and our model for creating change. It outlines the goals and priorities for our work over the next five years, 2011 to 2015, and our vision beyond that. EBASE’s board, staff, and leaders will use this strategic plan to evaluate and make decisions about current and potential work, using this document as a road map for the future. After celebrating our 10th anniversary in 2009, EBASE began to update our first strategic plan by reflecting on what was, and was not, working with our current model. We clearly had impact in our first decade — raising workplace standards, increasing job access, and boosting incomes for 20,000 East Bay workers. However, the recession placed real strains on our budget and staff. This forced us to focus our many campaigns and projects to have even greater impact. At the same time, a deepening internal commitment to diversity and racial justice led us to be more explicit about addressing race in our work.

Job Sprawl and the Suburbanization of Poverty

Job Sprawl and the Suburbanization of Poverty

The Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution has released a report on job decentralization and the challenges of the poor as more and more  jobs move to the suburbs. "Understanding the association between employment decentralization and the suburbanization of poverty is important because of the continued growth of the suburban poor," write the report's authors. "In 2005, the suburban poor outnumbered their city counterparts by almost one million. And during the first year of the recession that began in 2007, suburbs added more than twice as many poor people as did their cities." The report, "Job Sprawl and the Suburbanization of Poverty" by Steven Raphael and Michael A. Stoll, suggests that the responsiveness of the poor to the outward movement of jobs, particularly racial and ethnic minority poor, does not appear to be as strong as that for the population as a whole. Are the poor hurt by their inability to readily follow jobs? The researchers suggest the answer is yes, at least as measured by earnings and employment. In particular, the poor are put at a disadvantage by low car ownership rates and the lack of adequate transit options. Researchers said the potential higher commute costs are likely a disincentive to obtaining suburban jobs.


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