Like much of Texas, Amarillo is seeing some investment and growth in the city. Despite rapid growth and increasing prosperity in the southwest area of the city, many residents do not have access to the opportunities that this kind of development brings, especially residents of color with low incomes in the northeast side of the Amarillo.
“This has brought new jobs, new housing and great prosperity to the city,” Texas Housers’ Northwest Texas co-director Adam Pirtle said. “However, because of historic patterns of segregation, this prosperity hasn’t been shared across the city. Low-income residents, especially low-income communities of color have for the most part been locked out of this growth and opportunities for this great city.”
This weekend, Texas Housers shared some data and analysis about the unequal access to transit, fresh foods and good jobs that some residents face with community leaders in Amarillo. This was just a portion of a forum on community development that Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas hosted at Amarillo College. The discussion from several speakers focused on community development in three specific neighborhoods: The Barrio neighborhood, North Heights and San Jacinto.
Our Northwest Texas co-director Adam Pirtle studied patterns of segregation in Amarillo based on race, ethnicity and income level. He also mapped out access to transportation, quality education, jobs, and subsidized housing. He then focused on the three neighborhoods mentioned above, comparing them with areas on the southwest side of the city. Here are some highlights of his presentation:
- In his analysis, he found that about 30-40 percent of residents of the Barrio, North Heights and San Jacinto neighborhood census tracts live below the poverty line (less than $24,250 for a family of four). In the southwest, mostly white areas of town, the poverty rate is about 0-10 percent, depending on the census tract.
- Those three neighborhoods have higher unemployment rates than the southwest side, a higher concentration of housing choice vouchers and much less access to full-service grocery stores.
- There is also a disparity in mortgage loans between the three neighborhoods and the rest of the city.
- Student achievement in the southwest portion of the city is significantly higher than in the Barrio, San Jacinto and North Heights neighborhoods.
- Residents of color, particularly those in the north and east sides of the city border industrial-zoned areas, meaning they are likely to experience nuisance from being close to factories or plants.
See more in Adam Pirtle’s presentation below.
Editors note: In the video of Adam’s presentation, he stated that the student achievement index created by Children At Risk was based on the number of children who pass the STAAR test. The index is actually created using the following methodology: “The percentage of students at an elementary or middle school campus who took and passed the STAAR Reading Exam at Level III Advanced for their respective grade level account for 50% of the Student Achievement Index. The percentage of students at an elementary or middle school campus who took and passed the STAAR Math Exam at Level III Advanced for their respective grade level account for the other 50% of the Student Achievement Index. For high school campuses the percentage of students who took and passed the English I or English II STAAR End of Course Exam at Level III Advanced for their respective grade level account for 50% of the Student Achievement Index. The percentage of high school students who took and passed the Algebra I STAAR End of Course Exam at Level III Advanced account for the other 50% of the Student Achievement Index.” See the source here.