The issue of income inequality in the nation’s urban centers has been among the most persistent problems of the last century.
The amount of socioeconomic segregation in Jacksonville is striking when presented graphically.
The map above, produced by geographic information system company Esri, shows the median income of Jacksonville households in 2012.
The lightest areas show those places with residents who earn $24,000 per year or less. The blue areas, from lightest to darkest, show neighborhoods with residents earning between $53,001 to more than $82,000 annually.
Just a glance reveals a center of poverty in the city’s urban core and surrounding neighborhoods, like Springfield and Brentwood.
The wealthy reside almost exclusively at the beaches and Intracoastal West area or neighborhoods along the St. Johns River like San Marco and Mandarin.
Dr. Rody Borg, economics professor at Jacksonville University and city native, says the ideal neighborhood has a diverse blend of residents.
“Arlington is sort of a little microcosm of Jacksonville,” says Borg, referring to the income segregation in the area where JU is located.
Arlington’s lower income households are located mostly on Justina Road. Wealthier households are along the waterfront on University Boulevard.
Borg attributes the separation of the city’s poorest and richest residents, in part, to failed urban renewal projects, namely the construction and subsequent demolition of the Blodgett Homes public housing development.
As hundreds of blue-collar and lower income complex residents were forced to move into the surrounding areas, property values decreased, and those in higher income brackets moved away.
As housing stock decreased, supply began to outpace demand, paving the way for neglect, blight, and increased crime.
“When it comes to this issue, (people) react on the basis of self-interest,” says Borg, describing how the effect of housing trends on the character of a neighborhood usually come before personal considerations, like racial or political identity, when residents consider whether to stay or go.
According to Borg, the concentration of crime in low income areas is not a matter of unlawful residents.
“They’re targets,” he says, noting that thieves and drug dealers know they are less likely to be caught in areas that lack consistent housing, along with other more obvious features like home security systems.
Borg says that as businesses move into the urban core there have been efforts to improve housing in the city’s core, but answers remain scarce.
“The vast majority of these issues and problems are simply much, much more complex, particularly in terms of their solution, than people think.”
The average national median household income last year, based on U.S. Census Bureau data, was $44,802.