New study: Numbers of rich and poor on the rise in Houston

A new study from Rice University shows a large economic gap in the city of Houston's rich and poor.

Houston prides itself as being a city of opportunity, but the number of poor neighborhoods has quadrupled since the 1980's. That's according to a new study out by Rice University.

Take a drive through Houston and you'll see two very different realities. The sprawling homes of the wealthy in River Oaks and streets filled with struggling families in the 5th Ward.

According to researchers, both the rich and the poor in Houston are on the rise.

"People are living in very different circumstances and aren't experiencing the same thing," said Heather O'Connell with Rice University.

The study looks at census data and found in 1980, 9 percent of neighborhoods were considered to be high poverty. Now, that number is around 39 percent, almost double the national average.

"Some areas are just more likely to lobby and get resources, those are the areas that have people in economic power," said O'Connell.

The other thing that's changed is where these poor neighborhoods are.

The majority used to be in the inner city's core. However, now they're growing outside the loop in places like Baytown, Galena Park, Greenspoint and Gulfton.

Researchers hope people will take notice.

"That we'll get a better understanding of what communities need and that it will really help the conversation, and also just highlight to everyone the drastic disparities within Harris County." said O'Connell.

Another thing this study points out is the shrinking middle class.

Researchers also found there's more income diversity in neighborhoods, because more inner city neighborhoods are now being redeveloped.

For more information on the report, click here.


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