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July 22, 2018

Dallas taxes and minorities

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A week ago, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a wider definition of what qualifies as racial discrimination under the Fair Housing Act of 1968 to include not just overt discrimination, but also policies which may appear fair on the surface, but nevertheless negatively affect minorities. The court ruled 5-4 in favor of a nonprofit group, which had claimed that a Texas agency tax advantages for supplying low income housing were discriminatory since they triggered minorities to be segregated to high poverty regions with worse schools, higher mortality rates and fewer chances overall. Income segregation has improved within the last 3 decades in 27 of the biggest 30 metropolitan areas across the U.S., based on a 2012 Pew Research Center report.

Residential concentration among upper income households is also high in Texas. Houston and Dallas topped the charts one of the 10 biggest metropolitan areas, with 24% and 23%, respectively, of top income families lying in census tracts that were half upper income. Overall, these cities had the greatest Residential Income Segregation Index scores among the countries biggest metropolitan regions in 2010, Dallas scored 60 points on our 200 point scale, where 200 means complete segregation by income. In the meantime, the median RISI score for Americas top 10 metropolitan regions was 50, and Boston scored just a 36.

Nevertheless, our 2012 report also found that residential segregation from income remains less common than segregation by race, despite how black white segregation has been declining for decades nationwide. We mapped the Dallas metropolitan area from race of the head of household and from household income using data from the Census American Community Survey five-year estimate data, centered on 2008 the year the Supreme Court case on home discrimination was filed. Census tracts with more than 50% of families headed from non-Hispanics whites were considered majority white, while all others were considered majority non-white. Looking at the income and race maps shows a lot of overlap between areas which are predominantly low income and areas which are predominantly non-white in Dallas.

There are 1, 311 populated census tracts in the Dallas metropolitan area, and 19% of these are predominantly minority and majority low income. Almost all these are based in the south-east part of the city of Dallas, separated from wealthier regions from Interstate 30, or in downtown Fort Worth. Of the 306 majority lower income census tracts in the Dallas Fort Worth area, 83% are Mostly non-white. In the meantime, 95% of the 108 majority top income tracts are Mostly non-Hispanic white.

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