Contrasts apparent in area neighborhoodsORNational trend mirrored in Twin Cities

Bei Hu

A survey by the University’s Institute on Race and Poverty paints a mixed picture of racial attitudes in the Twin Cities area.
Results of the survey, released last weekend and discussed at a national conference Saturday, analyzed poverty and segregation in the United States. A study of the Twin Cities area showed there were different attitudes about integration, especially when respondents were divided into race categories.
Whites are divided by whether or not they want more integrated neighborhoods, while a great majority of African-Americans favor racial balance in communities.
Slightly more than 50 percent of the white respondents in the survey said they prefer neighborhoods where 50 percent or more residents are people of color. By contrast, nearly 80 percent of African-American respondents prefer to live in such neighborhoods.
Researchers also reported that only 4.4 percent of the African-Americans surveyed said they would like to send their children to schools with a predominantly minority student body. No white respondents indicated the preference.
“Clearly, one of the things that I see coming out the survey is that there is not a insignificant percentage of whites in the Twin Cities that still want to live in segregated neighborhoods,” said University political science professor David Schultz, who was the principal author and project coordinator of the Institute’s study on housing, education and segregation in the Twin Cities.
“To me, that’s still a disturbing factor,” he added.
But Schultz was quick to point out that the figure is about 10 to 12 percent higher than the national average. “Clearly, there is much more support here (for racial integration in housing) than elsewhere in the U.S.,” he said.
The survey results were based on telephone interviews with 500 people in the metro area between February and April. About 40 percent of the respondents were people of color.
The survey is part of the final report about the Institute’s study of housing, education and segregation, which presents an even less flattering image of the Twin Cities area. The study’s preliminary results were first announced last year.
Along with previous research, the current study shows that minority populations are being increasingly segregated in America’s urban cores, which has been linked to educational, economic and political barriers to achievement.
This trend is taking place while the poverty rate among African-Americans is at an all-time low.
“The fastest group moving to suburbs today is the black middle class,” said john powell, the Institute’s founder and executive director.
The national trend is being mirrored in the Twin Cities area. While middle-income communities of color are becoming larger and more integrated, said powell, racial segregation persists in the Twin Cities area.
Using 1990 census data, researchers have rated Minneapolis-St. Paul among the 10 most segregated cities in the U.S. In 1995, The Institute on Race and Poverty set out to study housing and educational policies in the Twin Cities and offer possible solutions.
A pronounced feature of racial segregation today is concentrated-poverty neighborhoods, meaning more than 40 percent of the population includes income levels below the poverty line. Scholars believe concentrated poverty aggravates educational and employment problems.
The Institute’s study reported an average 324 percent increase in the number of people living in concentrated poverty in the Twin Cities between 1970 and 1990. Among African-Americans and Hispanics, there had been respectively 886 percent and 1,388 percent increases, as compared to 589 percent among the whites.
“Clearly, people of color are being more adversely affected by poverty than the general population,” said Jim Hilbert, program director of the Institute.
Solutions, according to the Institute, entail more coordination in housing and education policies locally and regionally. This would include more racial and economic integration through zoning reform in neighborhoods.