Spotlight Exclusives

Rich Blocks, Poor Blocks Offers a Visual Breakdown of Neighborhood Wealth

Spotlight Team Spotlight Team, posted on

A new tool Rich Blocks, Poor Blocks offers a visual display of U.S. Census data down to the census tract level, zeroing in on two critical data points: income and rent. In this case a picture is truly worth a thousand words:


The tool allows a user to compare his or her block against the rest of the state. As one user remarked,


“The median household income in my county is $17,898, which is about half of what is required to be considered middle class in my state. However, each census tract is calculated individually, and I see I live in one of the better neighborhoods of that county, where the median household income is $22,818. With this map, you can use the color-coding to see how income distributes over a city or state. Often, the dividing line is quite jarring.”


Similar approaches have been taken by others at the state level, including the Mapping L.A. Neighborhoods” interactive feature created by the Los Angeles Times. The paper took Census data on a dozen variables ranging from income and housing to ethnicity, marital status and education, and then reordered boundaries to conform to reader۪s descriptions of their neighborhoods. What started in 2009 with 87 neighborhoods within the city has now expanded to cover the entire county. The public is invited to continuously comment on the boundaries and the information.


At Spotlight we appreciate how time consuming it is to slice and dice data, not to mention translate it into visual or interactive tools. That۪s why we encourage you to check out Spotlight۪s aggregations of “Opportunity Indicators & Measurements.” We have long been smitten by a number of these including the American Human Development Index, which offers data on a set of key related topics and can drill down to the Congressional district level. It takes all the data and then reduces it to a simple index. If that۪s not what you۪re looking for, we also offer a list of resources for you to tap into to create your own materials and tools. As always, if you know of an opportunity indicator or measurement tool that should be added, please don۪t hesitate to pass it along to us.

Posted by Jodie

Here at Out of the Spotlight, we offer a behind-the-scenes look at the latest news and information essential to anyone working to fight poverty. From key political appointees to clashes over policy, we cover the news that doesn’t always make the evening news. Check out Out of the Spotlight for our take on the twists and turns of the latest political developments and their impact on poverty reduction. Topics and ideas are welcome! Just contact or

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