Poverty in the city of Boston remains above its pre-recession levels. In 2000, 19.5% of Bostonians lived below the federal poverty line. Poverty peaked at 23.3% following the recession, and based on new data from the 2012-2016 American Community Survey, it stands at 21.1% today.
Poverty is not evenly distributed across Boston, nor were its increases (and decreases). The map below (left) identifies high-poverty neighborhoods where over 30% of residents live in poverty. Such neighborhoods are especially concentrated in central and south-central Boston in neighborhoods like Roxbury, Jamaica Plain, and South Boston.
In 2000, 36 of Boston’s 178 neighborhoods had very high poverty. Today, only 26 have very high poverty. Nineteen of these 26 had high poverty at both time points, which indicates prolonged disadvantage. Seven neighborhoods did not have high poverty in 2000 but do today, whereas 17 neighborhoods had high poverty in 2000 but do not today.
Of the 19 neighborhoods with persistently-high poverty, 6 are located in Roxbury, 3 in Jamaica Plain, 3 in South Boston, and 2 in South End. Another 3 of the 7 neighborhoods with emergent high poverty are in Roxbury. These persistent and emergent high-poverty neighborhoods are more likely to be majority-black neighborhoods. Of the 17 former highly-poverty neighborhoods, five are in Fenway/Kenmore and 3 are in Allston/Brighton. Notably, four of Boston’s communities saw half or more of their neighborhoods experience sizable poverty declines (7 percentage points or more) from 2000 to today: Allston/Brighton, Central, Fenway/Kenmore, and South End.
The map below, which can be easily reproduced in Boston Map, shows that the geographic disparity in Boston city poverty extends into the broader metropolitan area. Poverty in the metro area is especially concentrated within Boston, although there are pockets of neighborhood poverty in the communities north and southeast of the city.