Identifying Poverty Areas using Satellite Imagery

Scientists use machine learning to fight global poverty from space, By Lonnie Shekhtman, August 18, 2016, Christian Science Monitor: “Satellites are best known for helping smartphones map driving routes or televisions deliver programs. But now, data from some of the thousands of satellites orbiting Earth are helping track things like crop conditions on rural farms, illegal deforestation, and increasingly, poverty in the hard-to-reach places around the globe…”

Concentrated Poverty – North Carolina

Poverty spreads across Mecklenburg, North Carolina, By David Perlmutt, Gavin Off and Claire Williams, August 2, 2014, Charlotte Observer: “For Oscar Olivares’ neighbors, life in their south Charlotte apartment complex is a daily struggle with little way out. The apartments off Arrowood Road look kept up on the outside. On the inside, two, even four, families often share the rent and meals. Some sleep in cars when they can’t afford to rent. Nights can bring trouble – many residents stay locked inside. Olivares, 59, and wife Claudia, who both grew up in desperate poverty in Chile, chose to live at the complex to conduct mission work. He is a part-time chaplain for Forest Hill Church and works with the nonprofit Learning Help Centers of Charlotte, two groups among many that help poor residents try to overcome poverty…”

Promise Zones

A new initiative from the Obama administration offers new hope to high poverty areas, By Amy McDonald, July 27, 2014, Deseret News: “Sara-Jane Smallwood had made her way to the top: a bachelor’s degree in Indian American studies, a master’s in public policy from Indiana University and a job on the Hill, working as a policy analyst for her U.S. senator. But Smallwood came from the bottom: a small town in Southeastern Oklahoma where more than 60 percent of the population lives below poverty. Her high school class of 35 people didn’t hold a 10-year reunion, because several class members had died, and many were in and out of prison. But even though hers was an anomalous story of success, she speaks of her hometown with love and pride. And in 2011, Smallwood — the descendant of a long line of influential Choctaw tribal leaders and the daughter of two school teachers — decided that of all the hard work she saw at the top, very little was reaching the bottom…”

Poverty Areas and Mobility

Do poor neighborhoods get worse before they get better? After looking at the data, we sure hope so. By Lane Anderson, July 9, 2014, Deseret News: “The recession hasn’t hit everywhere equally. Poor neighborhoods have gotten poorer in taking the brunt of the downfall, according to a Census Bureau report released Monday. In the last 14 years, more people have moved into low-income neighborhoods, or what the study calls “poverty areas.” These areas are defined as a census tract with a rate of 20 percent poverty or higher, and the number of people living in these places has gone up from 49.5 million in 2000 to 77.4 million in 2008-2012. Now 1 in 4 Americans live in ‘poverty areas.’ The reasons why have to do with cost-of-living and lack of jobs. . .”

Concentrated Poverty

  • Where America’s poverty is getting more and more concentrated, By Danielle Kurtzleben, June 30, 2014, Vox: “Around 15 percent of Americans live in poverty, but a much bigger share live in areas where the concentration of poverty is particularly high. More than one-quarter of all Americans live in ‘poverty areas,’ places where more than 20 percent of the population lives under the poverty line, currently around $23,600 for a two-parent family of four, according to a new report from the Census Bureau. One striking finding is that Americans living in these poor neighborhoods are more heavily concentrated in the southern US than anywhere else. . .”
  • Maps: A fourth of Americans live in poor neighborhoods, By Niraj Chokshi, June 30, 2014, Washington Post: “A fourth of all Americans live in what the Census Bureau calls ‘poverty areas,’ neighborhoods where at least 1 in 5 have incomes below the poverty level, according to a new report. The share of people living in these poverty areas grew substantially fell during the 1990s but grew substantially over the first decade of the 2000s. As of 2010, it’s up to 25.7 percent, from 18.1 percent in 2000. (In 1990, it was 20 percent.) And while not all people living in such areas are themselves poor, they find themselves in areas associated with a slew of problems. . .”
  • Census outlines ‘poverty areas’: Which states hit hardest? By Daniel B. Wood, June 30, 2014, Christian Science Monitor: “The number of US residents living in “poverty areas” has jumped significantly since 2000, according to a Census Bureau report released Monday. According the 2000 Census, less than 1 in 5 people lived in poverty areas. But more recently, 1 in 4 residents have lived in these areas, according to census data collected from 2008 to 2012. The Census Bureau defines a poverty area as any census tract with a poverty rate of 20 percent of more. Sociologists and other analysts point to the Great Recession, in particular housing and job challenges, as well as slow and uneven growth since the recession. . .”