The Suburban Poor Doubled in North Texas Since 2007: My Fascination With Fate Real Estate

Published October 17, 2011 by Candy Evans

Note: According to the Brookings Institution, San Antonio, Texas is the only metro area in the U.S. where median income has risen since 2007.

I am fascinated with a little town called Fate, Texas, about 30 miles east of Dallas. Couple reasons why. I think I wrote a story about Fate during the boom about it’s booming population. As of 2011, Fate’s population is 1,476 people. Since 2000, it has had a population growth of 196.98 percent. One reason why may be the cost of homes: median home cost in Fate is $134,500. Still, home appreciation last year has been down negative 2.03 percent. Compared to the rest of the country, Fate’s cost of living is 5.20% lower than the U.S. average. I have heard good things about the Fate public schools. Fate public schools spend $3,948 per student. The average school expenditure in the U.S. is $5,678. There are about 15.8 students per teacher in Fate. The unemployment rate in Fate is 7.80 percent(U.S. avg. is 9.10%). 

But, Steve Brown reported that the foreclosure rate is rather high in Fate. And then this very interesting piece by Peter Goodman in The Huffington Post got me thinking about suburbs and their growing problems and poverty. Peter’s piece is comprehensive and well-researched. Basically, he reports on a Brookings Institution study that tells us the number of poor and unemployed is growing in the suburbs, where there are fewer services to help them. And this suburban poverty started budding before the real estate boom/bust.

“Though cities still have nearly double the rate of poverty as suburban areas, the number of people living in poverty in the suburbs of major metropolitan areas increased by 53 percent between 2000 and 2010, as compared to an increase of 23 percent among city-dwellers, according to a Brookings Institution analysis of recently released census data. In 16 metropolitan areas, including Atlanta, Dallas and Milwaukee, the suburban poor has more than doubled over the last decade.

The swift growth of suburban poverty is reshaping the sociological landscape, while leaving millions of struggling households without the support that might ameliorate their plight: Compared to cities, suburban communities lack facilities and programs to help the poor, owing to a lag in awareness that large numbers of indigent people are in their midst. Some communities are wary of providing services out of fear they will make themselves magnets for the poor.”

The Brookings Institution study shows median household income change in the top 100 metro areas since 2007. In Dallas/Fort Worth, the median income has dipped by -5.4%. In Austin, it has dipped by 6.6%, but note that little old San Antonio, Texas is the only metro area in the country where median income has actually risen: up 3.1%. Reasons for this may be that San Antonio had a lower median income to begin with, has seen job growth and corporate relocations as well as an influx of wealthy Mexican escaping crime in Mexico.

As Goodman pointed out, people usually move to the suburbs for better schools and home values. Suburbs can be a great place to raise children. How sad that some of these people experience a change in fortune that leaves them worse off in the very place they thought would be nirvana.

— Daily Local Real Estate Dish By Dallas Real Estate Insider — Candy Evans at CandysDirt.com