By Kristin Jones
The child poverty rate in Colorado dropped for the second year in a row in 2014, reversing a long trajectory in the wrong direction, according to a new report from the Colorado Children’s Campaign, a Trust grantee. From 2000 to 2007, the child poverty rate had jumped 60 percent in Colorado, the fastest increase of any state. Then the recession piled on.
Fifteen percent of Colorado kids live in poverty, or 190,000 kids, according to the latest available census data, compiled by the 2016 Kids Count report. But celebration is premature. That’s still many more than the 10 percent who were living in poverty in 2000. And the number obscures pockets of deeper poverty among some populations, as well as the struggles that some families have in accessing food, shelter and other basic needs, despite federal definitions of what’s poor.
Only 8 percent of white children in Colorado were living in poverty in 2014. That’s in contrast to the 27 percent of Latino children who were poor, and 31 percent of black children.
By location, too, children face starkly different conditions. In Douglas County, only 4 percent of children were living in poverty. In Saguache County, it was 40 percent, around twice the national average.
Even as the overall childhood poverty rate dropped, schools around the state have reported an increase in the number of kids who are homeless. Denver Public Schools took on an additional 924 homeless students between the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years. There is a larger number of homeless students in Denver than there was at the height of the recession.
Housing costs are a primary driver of homelessness. The gap between the median housing price and the median family income is much larger now than it was even at the height of the housing market, before the recession. Rents continue to soar in the Denver metro area and other places in the state. In 2014, about a third of all children in Colorado lived in households with a high housing-cost burden, generally defined by economists as more than a third of a family’s income.
Click here to view the full report.