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Targeting Federal Funding to Areas Experiencing Significant Poverty

GAO-20-518, July 16, 2020

Areas with high poverty face systemic problems that can lead to things like higher levels of school dropouts. To help, some federal agencies have been required to direct at least 10% of program funds to counties with poverty rates of at least 20% over the last 30 years (persistent-poverty counties). These counties are predominantly rural and mostly located in the south.

Legislation proposed in 2019 would apply this requirement to more agencies and programs over the next 10 years, and also direct additional funds to high-poverty census tracts (those with poverty rates of at least 20% over the past 5 years). Doing so could help direct federal funds to more urban areas and more areas of the country.

So, which areas of the country could receive these funds if this legislation is approved?

persistent-poverty counties

The blue areas on the map show
the persistent-poverty counties
in the United States.

high-poverty census tract counties

Click on the first checkbox in the legend to
also show the high-poverty census tracts that
are included in the proposed legislation.

view county data via tooltip

You can also hover on a specific census
tract or county to see its 2017 poverty rate.

For more information, read our report,

Sources: GAO analysis of Census, Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates, and American Community Survey data. | GAO-20-518
Download data (ZIP, 725KB)