There are an estimated 39.5 million Americans living below the poverty line, which, in the lower 48 states, is an annual income threshold of $12,880 for an individual and $26,500 for a family of four (Alaska and Hawaii have a slightly higher threshold). Living in poverty can have serious consequences and impacts nearly every aspect of life -- and those problems can be compounded for those who are facing poverty while also living in very poor neighborhoods.

Residents of poor neighborhoods often struggle with higher crime rates, limited employment opportunities, lower school quality, and poor health outcomes. For those living on poverty level income, each of these factors reduces the likelihood of upward economic mobility.

West Virginia's Huntington-Ashland metro area has by far the highest concentrated poverty rate in the state. An estimated 14.8% of the local population living below the poverty line reside in one of nine area neighborhoods in which 40% of the population or more also live in poverty. The Charleston metro area has the second highest concentrated poverty rate in the state, which, at 7.4%, is half the comparable rate in Huntington-Ashland.

Homeownership is one of the most practical ways to build wealth in the United States, but in Huntington's poorest neighborhoods, few residents own their home. The average homeownership rate across concentrated poverty neighborhoods in the city is just 37.4%, compared to the 73.9% homeownership rate across the metro area's other neighborhoods.

All data used in this story are five-year estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau's 2019 American Community Survey. We only considered census tracts, or neighborhoods, with at least 500 people and college or graduate school enrollment below 50%. Metro areas were also excluded if over 25% of the population in tracts or neighborhoods of concentrated poverty were college or university students.

 

Metro area with worst extreme povertyPoor residents in high-poverty neighborhoodsOverall poverty rateOverall poverty rate, statewide
Alabama: Tuscaloosa16.7%18.2%16.7%
Alaska: NoneN/AN/A10.7%
Arizona: Phoenix9.9%13.6%15.1%
Arkansas: Little Rock7.8%15.0%17.0%
California: Fresno28.5%22.5%13.4%
Colorado: Pueblo5.9%18.8%10.3%
Connecticut: New Haven12.7%11.7%9.9%
Delaware: NoneN/AN/A11.8%
Florida: Tallahassee21.5%15.8%14.0%
Georgia: Albany35.3%24.2%15.1%
Hawaii: NoneN/AN/A9.4%
Idaho: NoneN/AN/A13.1%
Illinois: Danville20.6%18.9%12.5%
Indiana: Muncie18.7%17.2%13.4%
Iowa: Waterloo9.6%13.4%11.5%
Kansas: Wichita5.7%13.0%12.0%
Kentucky: Louisville11.2%12.3%17.3%
Louisiana: Monroe49.5%24.2%19.2%
Maine: Lewiston13.5%11.8%11.8%
Maryland: Baltimore9.3%10.0%9.2%
Massachusetts: Springfield23.4%14.8%10.3%
Michigan: Flint32.4%18.9%14.4%
Minnesota: Duluth7.9%13.0%9.7%
Mississippi: Jackson21.3%16.9%20.3%
Missouri: Cape Girardeau27.9%16.4%13.7%
Montana: Great Falls19.8%13.3%13.1%
Nebraska: Omaha3.8%10.3%11.1%
Nevada: Las Vegas5.1%13.7%13.1%
New Hampshire: Manchester2.9%7.8%7.6%
New Jersey: Trenton21.3%11.7%10.0%
New Mexico: Las Cruces26.1%26.3%19.1%
New York: Buffalo27.4%14.0%14.1%
North Carolina: Goldsboro12.5%20.2%14.7%
North Dakota: NoneN/AN/A10.7%
Ohio: Toledo26.0%16.0%14.0%
Oklahoma: Oklahoma City9.2%13.7%15.7%
Oregon: Medford2.3%15.5%13.2%
Pennsylvania: Reading28.8%12.0%12.4%
Rhode Island: Providence4.0%12.0%12.4%
South Carolina: Columbia7.9%14.4%15.2%
South Dakota: NoneN/AN/A13.1%
Tennessee: Memphis24.6%17.5%15.2%
Texas: Laredo46.4%27.5%14.7%
Utah: NoneN/AN/A9.8%
Vermont: NoneN/AN/A10.9%
Virginia: Roanoke15.9%12.9%10.6%
Washington: Yakima8.5%17.4%10.8%
West Virginia: Huntington14.8%18.8%17.6%
Wisconsin: Milwaukee17.4%13.1%11.3%
Wyoming: NoneN/AN/A11.0%