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Fishtown, Point Breeze have become far wealthier in the last 10 years and other new Census findings

Michaelle Bond & John Duchneskie - Philly Inquirer

Household incomes stayed flat or rose in most of the city. But increases were fueled by displacement, and inflation has eroded purchasing power.

A couple of weeks ago, Angelita Ellison got a call from a former neighbor who still lives on the block in Point Breeze where Ellison lived for 16 years.

“Basically, she said most of the people who lived there when I lived there are gone now,” said Ellison, who moved away a few years ago from the home that had been in her family — passed down from her grandparents to her mother — since the early 1980s. “And it’s a bunch of new people.”

Fewer residents are Black and more are white. Parks have gotten fixed up, and new stores have arrived. Living in the neighborhood has gotten more expensive.

Point Breeze was one of a handful of Philadelphia neighborhoods where household median incomes rose by more than $40,000 over the last decade, according to data the Census Bureau released Thursday. Across the city, changes in incomes were fueled by wealthier people moving into certain areas, and incomes rose the most in some of the most gentrified areas.

Household incomes either stayed relatively flat or rose in most of the city, but inflation-fueled increases in the cost of everyday goods this year have eroded the purchasing power of households. The number of people living in poverty rose the most in Northeast and parts of Northwest Philadelphia.

Lower Northeast Philadelphia had the highest increases in the number of people living in poverty; the shares of Black, Asian, and/or Hispanic residents; the share of residents who speak a language other than English at home; and the share of residents who are immigrants.

The latest data from the American Community Survey compared the 2007-to-2011 time period with the period from 2017 to 2021. Below are some takeaways.

Household incomes flat or rose less than $10K in most of the city

Over the last decade, the median household income in most of Philadelphia’s neighborhoods — in the West, Northwest, and Northeast — stayed flat or increased by less than $10,000, in 2021 dollars.

Growth in median incomes of $10,000 or more was concentrated in central Philadelphia, including the greater Center City area, South Philadelphia, and the area in and around Fishtown and Kensington.

The two zip codes with the highest increases in median household income were 19146 and 19125. In 19146 — including Point Breeze, Southwest Center City, and Grays Ferry — the median income rose by almost $46,000 to about $86,400. In 19125 — including Kensington and Fishtown — the median income rose by about $42,000 to roughly $89,500.

Ellison, 39, said seeing the displacement of longtime residents in certain neighborhoods “is kind of disheartening, but also [I feel] hopeful. Because I feel like it’s happened to so many people that more people are talking about it.” And maybe more will be done to help people in danger of being displaced, she said.

According to the Census Bureau data, median household income fell in Chestnut Hill, part of East Mount Airy, Southwest Philadelphia, areas in and around the Tioga and Ogontz neighborhoods, and part of Far Northeast Philadelphia.

The number of people living in poverty increased the most in the Northeast

When Ellison left South Philly, she moved to the Oxford Circle area in the Northeast. She lived on the second floor, her landlord lived on the first, and he was renovating the basement to turn that into an apartment, too. Issues with her pipes drove her out after a couple of years.

Ellison, who works for the state, now lives in an apartment in Frankford with her 16-year-old son and her sister, who works in food distribution. They pay about $1,040 per month for rent, not including utilities.

“It’s not a great neighborhood. There’s like shootings around here,” she said. Stores are shuttered and there are people walking the streets who “you know are high,” she said.

But “we basically kind of went there because it was a rent we could afford,” she said. “But sometimes it feels tight. Especially when unexpected expenses come up.”

Although incomes stayed flat or rose by up to $10,000 in most of Northeast Philadelphia, these neighborhoods had the highest increases in the number of residents living in poverty over the last 10 years. The highest increases were in the areas in and around Frankford, Olney, Oxford Circle, Tacony, and Rhawnhurst.

The number of people living in poverty dropped the most in parts of South and West Philadelphia and in and around Strawberry Mansion and Fairhill.

The Census Bureau determines who is considered to be living in poverty by taking into account the size of a family and the number of children without adjusting for where the family lives or whether the family receives need-based aid. For example, a family of three with two children in 2021 would be living in poverty if the adult made about $22,000 or less.

The Northeast has had an increase in the percentage of residents who are Black, Asian, and/or Hispanic

Northeast Philadelphia had the largest increase in the share of residents who are Black, Asian, and/or Hispanic. In the 19149 zip code, which includes Oxford Circle and Mayfair, the share of these populations increased by 18 percentage points to make up 68% of residents there. In the neighboring 19152 zip code, which includes Rhawnhurst, the share of these populations rose 19 percentage points to make up 44% of residents.

The zip codes where the share of residents who are Black, Asian, and/or Hispanic fell the most were 19146 and 19123, which includes Northern Liberties.

Foreign-born populations and languages spoken at home

Increases in the share of residents who speak a language other than English at home were mostly concentrated in the Northeast. But parts of the Southwest, greater Center City, and South Philadelphia also had increases.

The two zip codes in which the share of residents who speak another language at home grew the most were in the Northeast — 19149 and 19135, which includes Tacony and Wissinoming.

The 19149 zip code also had the highest increase in the share of residents who were born outside of the United States.

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