8 Mar

Figure 1: LMI Census Tracts Identified in Allegheny County

LMI Cencus Tract figure 1

Figure 2: LMI Census Tracts Identified across the Pittsburgh Region

LMI census tract figure 2


In the City of Pittsburgh and across the Pittsburgh region, there is a growing affordability crisis for many individuals and families seeking services, housing, amenities, and sufficient and reliable transportation. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Services (HUD), low income is defined as “a household whose income does not exceed 80% of the median income of the area with adjustments for smaller or larger families” and a low-and moderate-income person defined as “a member of a family having an income equal to or less than the Section-8 low-income limit established by HUD.[1]”  For additional context, in 2016, HUD defined the income range for one person qualifying for Section 8 at $39,990[2].

As of 2015, Allegheny County had an estimated population of over 1.2 million people, with approximately 80.7% of the population identified as white and 13.4% of the population identified as black. Most often, these LMI communities are also predominantly comprised of minorities, largely African Americans. In Allegheny County, there are 128 LMI census tracts out of a total of 402 census tracts (31.8%). Breaking this down further to look at the city vs. the county, there are 58 LMI tracts identified in the City of Pittsburgh (14.4%) and 70 LMI tracks identified in the county, outside of the Pittsburgh city border (17.4%). Comparing the City of Pittsburgh to Allegheny County, the City of Pittsburgh’s median household income is around $40,715 with approximately 22.9% of people living in poverty while Allegheny County’s median household income is around $53,040 with approximately 12.2% of people living in poverty[3].

LMI Breakdown Table

One of the growing problems associated with LMI communities is generational poverty; in Allegheny County, on top of generational poverty, LMI communities frequently experience suburban poverty as property values and housing prices continue to soar in the city. As a result, there are a variety of challenges these individuals and families must face including food deserts, transportation deserts and limited reliable public transportation, human service deserts, lack of job availability, and access and opportunity for higher education. Will the next generation continue to face the same problems?

Kathryn Schlesinger

Transit Research and Policy Fellow at Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group
Kathryn originally hails from sunny south Florida, where she spent her childhood and teenage years playing travel softball on the Lady Gators, dedicating fifteen plus years to classical piano, and exploring the outdoors as much as possible. Kathryn then attended the University of Pittsburgh where she enjoyed the change in scenery and the discovery of the existence of seasons. She graduated with a B.A. in Environmental Studies and History, as well as a GIS Certificate. Currently, she works within PCRG’s mobility initiative GoBurgh, but is also expanding her knowledge into land use and housing.