Poverty in San Antonio disproportionately hits black Hispanic residents

One in five Hispanics in San Antonio – and nearly one in five black residents – live in poverty.

For white residents, the rate is 10 percent.

San Antonio has long been known as one of the most economically isolated cities in the country, with a marked and persistent racial divide in terms of wealth and opportunity – and a study released Tuesday is the latest reminder of that.

Decades of restrictions on acts that prohibited residents from owning a home due to their race and government policy prohibiting non-white families from obtaining federally guaranteed mortgages largely prevented them from building wealth during the economic boom that followed World War II.

The lingering result: Poverty remains highly concentrated in predominantly Hispanic and black communities, although these policies are dead and San Antonio is more integrated than most US cities, according to the study by San Antonio Area Asset Funders Network and Texas. Appleseed.

According to the study, poverty leads to lower educational and health outcomes in disproportionately poor areas, lower savings, and lower business and home ownership rates among non-white residents.

“Entrenched poverty doesn’t happen overnight,” said Ellen Stone, research director at Texas Appleseed – an Austin-based social and economic justice organization – who co-authored the study. “It’s something that has been developed for decades and hundreds of years. I think this report really talks about the fact that there needs to be more targeted effort to try to lift people out of this entrenched poverty. “

Poverty disproportionately hits people of color in San Antonio, according to the study. Almost one in four black residents live in poverty, despite representing 8% of the population. Hispanic residents make up 64 percent of the population, but 21 percent are at or below the poverty line.

More than one in three Hispanic women live in poverty, according to the study. The same goes for 27% of black women who run their households.

In contrast, 10 percent of white San Antonio residents live in poverty.

San Antonio families have more past due debt and lower median credit scores than the rest of the country, with Hispanic and black residents still doing worse on that front than white residents. Residents of areas of concentrated poverty do not have as much access to traditional banking options and instead turn to high-cost alternative financial services like payday loans and auto securities.

Many San Antonio households, 44.4%, are in “liquid asset poverty,” meaning they don’t have enough money to cover basic expenses for three months in the event of a loss. financial emergency. According to the study, more than half of black and Hispanic households did not have enough savings to support themselves in this case during the 2013 survey.

High debt combined with low savings means many low-income families are at an emergency of financial ruin, said Frances Gonzalez, program manager for the San Antonio Area Asset Funders Network.

“Any kind of problem that might come up on any given day, it’s a financial problem, it’s a stressor for them, is really going to change everything for them,” Gonzalez said. “It could mean losing a place where they live. This could mean deferring prescriptions. This could mean having to tell a child that he has no money for the things he needs at school.

San Antonio’s unemployment rate has fallen to historically low levels, but many jobs pay low wages. More than a quarter of workers in the San Antonio area work in jobs with a median salary of less than $ 25,000. Two-thirds of workers in the region have jobs that pay less than $ 50,000.

High unemployment rates straddle areas with high Hispanic and black populations, as do rates of residents without health insurance, according to the study.

And the wealth gap in San Antonio is glaring. In 2016, the median income for black and Hispanic households was $ 35,709 and $ 42,516, respectively. For white households, that figure was $ 64,444. The median household income for Asian residents that year was $ 70,903.

Black men and women of all ethnicities living in San Antonio have the least economic mobility, according to the study. Hispanic and white men, on the other hand, are more likely to improve their economic status.

White residents are also over-represented among the city’s small business owners. Whites make up 25 percent of the San Antonio area’s population, but own 61 percent of its small businesses – 60 percent of businesses with less than 50 employees and 77 percent of those with 50 to 499 employees.

Meanwhile, Hispanic small business owners own 28 percent of the area’s businesses. Black residents own only 1% of small businesses in San Antonio. Women own 38 percent of businesses with less than 50 employees and 27 percent of businesses with 50 to 499 employees.

Areas of San Antonio with a larger racial minority population are also seeing lower homeownership rates and fewer mortgages taken, according to the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data study analysis. But high-cost mortgages are more common in those areas than in parts of San Antonio where minority populations are smaller.

Racial disparities in graduate level persist in San Antonio. More than half of the city’s residents have a graduate degree. But white residents earned a bachelor’s degree or higher at a rate twice as high as black residents and 2.5 times as high as Hispanic residents, according to the study. And high school students in some of the city’s poorer areas are not ready to graduate from college.

The study – funded by JPMorgan Chase & Co., Wells Fargo and Texas Capital Bank – noted the city’s efforts to combat economic segregation and help low-income residents build wealth, including the The city’s paid sick leave ordinance, which requires employers to provide a minimum amount of paid sick leave for employees.

The city and business groups, which vehemently opposed the ordinance, reached an agreement last week, approved by a Bexar County district judge, to delay implementation of the ordinance. from August 1 to December 1.

Other city efforts, the study noted, include adopting a $ 15 minimum wage for city employees, creating “financial empowerment centers” to help residents in need. to manage their finances and its equity budgeting process – which pays extra funds to the most needy areas of the city instead. to distribute them equally among each municipal district.

The study authors also highlighted Alamo Promise, an Alamo College District initiative to provide free community college to Bexar County high school graduates.

The study called for strengthened social protection programs and other methods to help low-income households create assets, including strengthening the efforts of nonprofits to help low-income households create assets. of wealth.

But entrenched poverty takes generations to set in, said Ann Baddour, director of the Fair Financial Services Project at Texas Appleseed. Any effort to reduce intergenerational poverty will take years, she said.

“One year of investment is not going to cancel out a century of divestment,” Baddour said. “I think we need to have a long-term view on this, but we also need to have responsibilities. “

Joshua Fechter is a San Antonio-based writer who covers real estate, economic development, and philanthropy. Read it on our free site, mySA.com, and on our subscriber site, ExpressNews.com. | [email protected] | Twitter: @JFreports

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