Brownsville Listed As Poorest American City

By David Martin Davies
November 01, 2013

Statistics from the Census Bureau names the border city of Brownsville, Texas, as the poorest city in the United States. And the nearby city of McAllen was ranked third poorest. But the community is not running from that designation, but embracing it.

Of the 415,000 residents of the Brownsville statistical area, 36 percent live below the poverty line. That’s a family of four earning less than $23,000 a year.

Brownsville’s rate is more than twice that national average. Traci Wickett is president of United Way of Southern Cameron County, which covers Brownsville.

“If we use the data as a flashlight rather than a club this can be a rather positive thing for our area," she said.

And Wickett said the rest of the nation should be paying attention to Brownsville to find solutions for the problems of the poor.

“What’s happening on the border today is what’s going to be happening in Austin in five years and Omaha in ten," Wickett said.

And while the Brownsville 36 percent poverty level looks bad, Wickett says in 2005 it was 42 percent. So there is progress.