Black Chicagoans most likely to live in deep poverty

A boarded-up house stands among other homes on West Washington Boulevard in West Garfield Park on October 5, 2015.

Photo by Stacey Rupolo

A boarded-up house stands among other homes on West Washington Boulevard in West Garfield Park on October 5, 2015.

In Chicago, about 274,000 people this year—or 10 percent of the city’s population—live in deep poverty. Their income is less than half of the federal poverty line, according to recently released statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau. In 2015 terms, that is $5,885 a year for an individual or less than $12,125 for a family of four.

Deep poverty is both widespread across the city and concentrated in predominately African-American neighborhoods. Seven Chicago communities, all of them predominately black, have the highest percentage of residents living in deep poverty, according to an analysis of Census data by the Social IMPACT Research Center at Heartland Alliance, an anti-poverty organization in Chicago.

Of Chicago’s 800 census tracts, 40 percent have deep poverty rates above the city average. Nearly two-thirds of tracts with above average rates have predominately black populations, including tract 3504, which includes the Dearborn Homes public housing project in Bronzeville. The tract has the highest deep poverty rate in the city, about 50 percent of its residents.

The map above illustrates a block-to-block picture of deep poverty, but calculating deep poverty by neighborhood shows which community areas struggle the most. Last year, an analysis of 2008-2012 poverty data showed that the following neighborhoods had more than 1 in 5 residents living in deep poverty: Burnside, Riverdale, Englewood, East Garfield Park, North Lawndale, Washington Park and West Garfield Park. Burnside had the highest deep poverty rate of any Chicago neighborhood, with about 35 percent of residents living in deep poverty.


  • Leaders should be using maps to target distribution of resources and growth of tutoring, mentoring, learning and jobs programs in areas with highest poverty. This PDF uses data from Social Impact Research Center to show number of youth age 6-17 below poverty in each Chicago community area.

  • John Laury

    … and the Democrats run that town, and have forever, yet the extremely poor continue to vote for them.