Report: Poverty Still Disproportionately Affects Blacks And Latinos In San Antonio | Texas Public Radio

Report: Poverty Still Disproportionately Affects Blacks And Latinos In San Antonio

Jul 31, 2019

Many black and Latino families continue to have less access to wealth and opportunity in San Antonio, especially when they live in racially and economically segregated parts of the city.

That’s according to a new report produced by research and advocacy group Texas Appleseed.

The report commissioned by a group of San Antonio foundations and financial institutions draws a clear picture of the city’s long-standing economic inequality by compiling statistics from academic research and government agencies. It also suggests possible solutions — like increased access to banks and loans — gleaned from a survey of local charities and social service providers.

For instance, in 2016 the median household income for white and Asian families in San Antonio was $20,000 to $30,000 more than the median household income for black and Latino families.

Single Hispanic women with children have one of the highest rates of poverty — 35%. Women of all ethnicities and black men have limited access to economic mobility and are unlikely to make more money than their parents did.

“It should matter that your neighbors down the street don’t have the same opportunities as you, and we need to change that paradigm so that our entire city has the opportunity for success,” said Rebecca Helterbrand, vice president of strategy and innovation at the San Antonio Area Foundation, which helped fund the report.

While the unemployment rate is low, Texas Appleseed found that two-thirds of the workers in San Antonio metro area make less than $50,000 a year. Women and black and Latino men are also less likely to own a business: 77% of businesses with at least 50 employees in San Antonio are white owned. Women own just 27%.

Citing research from Trinity University professor Christine Drennon, the report said San Antonio’s economic inequality can be traced back 100 years to restrictive housing policies that blocked black and Latino families from accessing ways to build wealth. It suggested increasing access to credit and other financial services as a first step towards eliminating the city’s long-standing inequities.

The report also highlighted four zip codes that have particularly dire outcomes, two on the East Side, one on the South Side and one on the West Side. The West Side zip code, 78207, is the same neighborhood featured in the CBS documentary Hunger in America 50 years ago.

“If we targeted those zip codes and lifted those communities out of the poverty situation that they’re in, then it could have a dramatic impact on income inequality,” Helterbrand said.

The report highlights 78207, 78202, 78208 and 78211 for having high poverty and unemployment rates and limited numbers of people with high school diplomas and health insurance.

In the West Side neighborhood where Lanier High School is located, just 53% of adults have a high school diploma. In the 78211 zip code, which feeds into South San High School, less than 60% of adults graduated from high school.

The foundations and financial institutions that commissioned the report, known as the San Antonio Area Asset Funders Network, announced Tuesday that it would be launching a financial coaching hub in October to provide financial services in the neighborhoods that have been left behind.

Camille Phillips can be reached at Camille@tpr.org or on Twitter @cmpcamille