The Economist: Black residents leave the CD for suburbs

An article in the Economist looks at the nationwide trend of black people fleeing cities for the suburbs, and they use the Central District to illustrate the point. The percentage of black Americans living in the suburbs has risen about seven percent in the past years, Census data shows. Today, about half of the country’s black population lives in the suburbs. The effects are good and bad, according to the article:

This is proving a mixed blessing. Well-educated blacks are finding better jobs, bigger houses and newer schools, just as white-flight suburbanites did in previous generations. But many lower-income migrants from the inner cities are finding poverty, crime and poor social services when they arrive in their new homes. In the past decade, poverty has increased more than twice as fast in the suburbs as it has in the cities.

The the effect is particularly apparent in Seattle and Portland, “two of America’s whitest big cities.” Charlene Williams, owner of De Charlene’s Beauty Shop & Boutique at 21st and Madison, described how the neighborhood has changed since she opened up shop in 1968.

Her neighbourhood was 79% black when she set up shop in 1968. It was 58% black as recently as 1990. Now it is 21% black. Ms Williams once had 13 hairdressers on her payroll; now she employs none.

We wrote about the 2010 Census data a few weeks ago, using an interactive map by our news partners at The Seattle Times. Since then, The New York Times has also created an interactive map, breaking Census data down into even more data sets. These sets show population changes by race or ethnicity as well as changes in vacant housing and population density.

According to the NYT map, the black population has decreased in most — but not all — Central District Census blocks. Black population rose in the Census blocks including Jackson Place and Seattle University. However, black population fell by as much as 36 percent in parts of Squire Park east of 15th Ave to 31st Ave and south of Union to Yesler. Meanwhile, the white population has grown significantly in all Census blocks in the CD.

The black population has increased in most other parts of Seattle. The High Point neighborhood of West Seattle and parts of Rainier Valley — particularly the Census block between Beacon Hill and Othello — saw some of the largest growths in black population in the city.

The largest increases are in the suburbs, though. Black populations more than doubled in parts of Renton and Skyway, for example. Sea-Tac and Tukwila also saw large increases.

0 thoughts on “The Economist: Black residents leave the CD for suburbs

  1. The number one reason while all the blacks are moving out of the central district is due to gentrification. Which means raise all of the rents and house prices to where many of the blacks and minoritys can’t afford. And bring them to the suburbs with lower rents . Also alot of it has to do with deaths in the families when the older generation dies all of the children are selling the houses instead of keeping the.

  2. This happens everywhere though. Places that were once affordable over time become less and less affordable. Areas that are close to businesses and mass transit hubs will always go up in value especially given the rapid increase in gas prices. It really has zero to do with race and more to do with economics.

    I was raised in an area that when my parents bought it was considered “transitional”. It wasn’t considered all that safe and it wasn’t very expensive. Today that area is considered an upper income area and there’s no way I could afford to buy a house there. I’m I resentful? No, this was always an expected outcome for me.

    Those same suburban areas will also increase in value given their proximity to Seattle proper and those that can’t afford it will have to move out even further. People want to live close to places where they want or need to go. It just so happens that there tends to be a lot of those places in and around Downtown.

    What I’m curious of is, what will happens to those that originally bought houses in the suburbs to distance themselves from minorities and lower income populations? Does this mean they will now try to move back into the city?

  3. Just like I previously read its all because of gentrification. The non minority groups realized how convinient the area was to live in and proceeded to kick us all out. 75% of us did not leave by choice but forced out. Gentrification

  4. i’m white and i bought my home in the cd 12 years ago. the previous owner of my home was not forced to move nor was she kicked out. she moved out of choice.

  5. You could look at it from the OTHER end of the $$ train, too. Black homeowners sold houses their parents or grandparents paid $15K for in the 70’s (and a lot less in the decades before) for 4 and 500K and took the money to have better lives out of the combat zone for our children and grandchildren. So do you blame black residents for selling to get better schools and lives for their families, or the non-blacks who chose to buy those houses? I did my time in a neighborhood no one cared about, and I for one am glad I sold to the highest bidder at the height of the market. My life is a lot better now, so is my kid’s.

  6. 75% of the houses sold were sold by force? Ha. Dream on. It’s all about the money, no matter what color the seller. I don’t see my black neighbors holding out in droves to sell to only blacks (although I have seen my Japanese neighbors do something similar). What I see is them selling to the highest bidder to make the most cash off of homes that have been paid off for 30 years, and now the parents or grandparents have finally died and the adult kids are cashing in.

  7. why is it that when blacks move into a white neighborhood and the whites get mad it’s called racism but when whites move into a black neighborhood and the blacks get mad it’s called gentrification?

  8. The story of the central district is as follows: Norm Rice, mayor at the time, thought that the CD had been underinvested and underserved and the city of Seattle along with some non-profit as well as for profit developers got together with the focus on investing in this part of the city. As more dollars were committed to the area, it became more attractive to EVERYONE. The city didn’t anticipate this and has restructured the way that they sought to invest in underserved communities because of what happened in the central district. What happened in the central district is studied by cities all over America as a story of what not to do. There are many wheels moving at the same time and there are many people involved in these transactions, so to take your specific case and say that’s how it was for everyone is just plain silly. Most people (obviously not most of the respondents here) believe that the influx of more monied individuals, the housing bubble, the fixed incomes of the black homeowners and/or their deaths, and the rising property taxes all played a part in what happened in the central district. It wasn’t just one thing, but to say it wasn’t gentrification (wealthier people accumulating property in low income or working class communities) is just not liking to use the word gentrification. If you looked at the income data for the CD, you will see not only did the faces of the CD change, but the incomes for the area are higher as well. So gentrification is not necessarily a white black thing. It’s a rich poor thing. And unfortunately a great deal of wealth still sits in the hands of non-people of color.

  9. Here’s the thing I don’t get.
    At one point in time blacks were basically forced to live in the central district. There was segregation and in Seattle the central district is where blacks were segregated to live.
    Now we’re a more integrated society and everyone is free and welcome to live wherever they want.
    Isn’t it normal and expected for blacks to spread out accross the city and county the same way every other ethnic groups has?

  10. “So gentrification is not necessarily a white black thing. It’s a rich poor thing.”

    This is something I totally agree with. I am from NYC. My dad was raised in a bad part of the Bronx, by a divorced mom who’d been working since she was 13 years old. She was in her twenties when she had my dad. She had no child support, and no family support. Her husband left when the boy was two. My dad pulled himself up by his bootstraps, got a scholarship to the Bronx high school of science, then got a scholarship to Columbia. I was raised in NYC where there are a thousand examples of black/white/any/every other race.. artists, professionals, blue collar, white collar, etc… while walking down the street any day of the week. This was normal and this was my primary example of people in general, and I didn’t think about black and white. I just thought NYC was a place of great energy ambition and many beautiful colors. I didn’t truly encounter the race divide until I came to live in Seattle, in the CD, where apparently, its supposed to be a matter of pride to hang out on the sidewalk all day playing music out of your car and smoking grass. Having been in the CD for seven years now, I’m used to it, but here’s the deal – it is a rich/poor thing – because anyone can better themselves. Anyone can work towards making a life for themselves, and anyone can focus, have ambition and create their world – all they need is passion. What I see in the CD is a profound sense of inertia amongst the young folk, and what i sense is an inane sense of pride pertaining to that inertia. When I think of the proud and beautiful black folk I have encountered on a daily basis in NYC, in London, in Paris, in San Fran, I simply do not understand why the youth in Seattle’s CD don’t use some elbow grease and make the world their own. The CD is not the South Bronx. Its not the Projects. Its within the boundaries of all the resources needed for blacks or whites, or every other race. You don’t have to go to college to make a good living, and you don’t have to be a minor drug lord in order to utilize your talents for being a great entrepreneur. Crucify me if you must, but hard work and passion will take you out into the great big world and away from pettiness, and pointless debate. All cities, countries, continents, and planets flow and change. The question is where do YOU want to go and what do YOU want to discover in this life.

  11. What is preventing blacks from being able to afford homes here? How is that anyone’s fault but their own. I have been on my own since I was 18. I have had zero help from my family, friends or the government. I work my ass off m-f 9-5. I don’t get drunk on work nights, I don’t do drugs and I dress as nice as I can.

    I just bought a house here because it was all that I could afford. Should I complain that I could not buy a home in Sandpoint? No, I don’t. I blame myself for not working harder to afford one. Anyhow that is what I think and am tired of the blame on all others but themselves. Stop blaming it on color and blame it on humans.

  12. Maybe that’s why dudes mean mug you (or “mad dog” as you say) outside of Red Apple… because your attitude permeates the air and it stinks.

    You have your answer to the rhetorical question you ask. As if you’d believe anything about a legacy of oppression, economic and social inequality, present day discrimination and lack of opportunity, and such. It’s 2011, right? According to you several hundred years of history have nothing to do with anything. You can’t even see your own benefit from this history. Welcome to the CD regardless.

  13. “What happened in the central district is studied by cities all over America as a story of what not to do”.
    What a load of lying crap is this??!!?? You are just making it up! I lived here then and you are delusional or jusy lying. The facts are that police did not enforce the law in the CD before Norm Rice became mayor. The gangs from LA moved in and the large black middle class did not want to live here anymore and moved to the suburbs. Norm Rice brought in weed and seed to try and salvage the black middle class here but too many had left already. Who would want to bring up children in a neighborhood where gang members picked on your children and the police sterotyped your children as gang members. It is peope like you that spread misinformation and create tension and trouble.

  14. So I’m hardly lying. I just wasn’t clear enough. Many dissertations and studies have been done about the central district and its gentrification and those dissertations and studies have been studied by cities throughout the US in what not to do. I do love your reactionary spirit, however and I’d love to fly off the handle and call someone a liar too had I not recently sat in on a few sessions hosted by the city of Seattle as part of their equity and social justice campaign and been a part of those discussions (which unfortunately you were not part of) in which they laid out exactly what happened (hindsight being 20/20) and what steps the city has taken to avoid doing this again when investing in underserved communities (equity and social justice department). The timing of policy is not always in alignment with action, so I understand why you would want to call me, a stranger to you on the internet, a liar and I would want to call you a reactionary who was so obviously bullied as a child, but we don’t know eachother, so maybe we should refrain from name-calling altogether and just state your point. And I think your point is that you no longer wanted to live in the CD because you felt powerless against the negative forces around you and saw your only recourse as moving to Kent or Federal Way or some other far off in never never land part of the county where the house prices are cheaper and larger and there aren’t gangs. Nothing makes me smile more than someone saying that I’m misinformed in the same breath as the mayor brought in “weed and seed”. I can not wait to use that exact phrase in my very next conversation with a human being. I love it.

  15. Hey IMp
    I was never bullied as a child and I do not live in Federal Way, I live in the CD. And by the way I was at thoses meetings as well. Boy, this shows how off base and delusional you really are!

  16. Can you elaborate on the conclusion of the studies or point me in the direction of where to find these studies? I admit, I am google search challenged. Thank you.

  17. Of course! And most African Americans who have moved (ie integrated),agree. It is only the “old school” thought that all African Americans are poor hence all African Americans must live together for needed social services in one area of town to serve them efficently. It is this racist construct that old school government and social service providers have and the sad part is they do not even know they do or go into denial when presented with it. I call it “the other side of the tracks” mentality.