Report: OTR Tops U.S. in Inequality

A new Census Bureau report reveals that from 2005 to 2009, a segment of Over-the-Rhine had the highest income inequality of more than 61,000 communities nationwide.

The segment — known as Census Tract No. 17 — is the northeast quadrant of Over-the-Rhine. The findings were featured in an article Tuesday by McClatchy Newspapers, which attributes the disparity in the tract partially to gentrification and the influx of young professionals into the predominantly low-income neighborhood.—-

Here's a portion of the article:

(At the census-tract level,) income inequality as measured by the Census Bureau's American Community Survey refers only to the range of household incomes in a small geographic area. The wider the gap between high and low earners, the higher the level of income inequality for that tract.

So while two-thirds of Tract 17's 321 households earn less than $10,000 a year and are mired in poverty, a push to gentrify the area has brought a wider mix of incomes to the small neighborhood just outside the downtown business district. Nearly 6 percent of residents there now earn between $25,000 and $49,999. Three percent make $100,000 to $149,999, and yet another 3 percent take in $200,000 or more.

The rare diversity of earnings in Tract 17 caused it to have the nation's most unequal neighborhood income distribution, according to the Census Bureau. And oddly enough, city leaders are striving for that kind of income integration throughout Over-the-Rhine.

The article examines the efforts of the Cincinnati Center City Development Corp. (3CDC) since 2004 to redevelop the neighborhood. It quotes Stephen Leeper, 3CDC's president and CEO, as well as representatives of St. Francis Seraph Ministries and the Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless on the redevelopment's impact on existing Over-the-Rhine residents.

Statistics show that 573 of the nearly 900 apartments and houses in Tract 17 are vacant, and 60 percent of tract residents received food stamps in the last year.

The report states that the most income-mixed tracts nationwide are in neighborhoods with older housing. The majority of units in Over-the-Rhine's Tract 17 are at least 70 years old or older.

After the Over-the-Rhine tract, other areas with the most income inequality are located in Grand Rapids, Mich.; Kileen, Texas; Austin, Texas; and Henderson, Texas.

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