Housing & Social Systems

Among the great assets of the St. Louis region are its distinctive neighborhoods and diverse communities. St. Louis is nationally recognized for offering a distinctive quality of life ranking 13th out of 35 cities on the Vitality Index, which is an index that quantifies elements such as parks, cultural institutions, sense of place, and neighborhoods.4 The St. Louis region also is noted for its housing affordability, consistently ranking among the most affordable metropolitan areas. Nearly 85 percent of housing is considered affordable for families earning the median income.

Demographically, the St. Louis region is diverse, but racial, cultural, and income segregation persists in certain areas. Although there has been some growth in Asian and Hispanic populations, the region continues to be largely biracial with 75.1 percent of the population being White, 18.3 percent Black, 2.1 percent Asian, and 2.5 percent Latino. Although the recession has officially ended, regional unemployment rate and poverty rates are still higher than average and continue to affect African Americans and children disproportionately to other populations. Furthermore, the region ranks 39th among MSAs in upward mobility—the probability that children born into low-income households will advance in income level. This low probability of upward mobility is related in part to income segregation and the increased likelihood of poor quality of schools in areas with lower income. Though the region offers some of the highest ranking school districts in the country, many others rank low on national standards. This directly contributes to creating a highly segregated region with disproportionate access to high quality education, especially for those in poverty.

Furthermore, St. Louis is ranked 5th worst in gender wage-gap compared to other metropolitan regions in the US.5 In the St. Louis metro area,on average, a woman who holds a full-time job is paid $38,123 per year while a man who holds a full-time job is paid $50,710 per year. This means that women in the St. Louis area are paid 75 cents for every dollar paid to men in the area, amounting to a yearly gap of $12,587 between men and women who work full time. This disparity creates income inequality within our region that negatively impacts the entire region.