Peoria ranked 7th on list of worst cities for black Americans, slight improvement from last year

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PEORIA, Ill. — The Peoria area came in seventh on the annual list of worst cities for black Americans to live in the U.S.

The ranking on the financial website fell to seventh on the list, from fifth place on last year’s list, and from second place the year before that and first place in 2016, showing a slight improvement. Peoria was the highest-listed Illinois area last year, and has moved to second, behind Danville, which came in fifth place this year.

To determine the 15 worst cities for black Americans, 24/7 Wall St. ranked the nation’s metropolitan areas based on racial disparities in income, education, health, incarceration, and white-black achievement gaps in other socioeconomic outcomes using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

According to 24/7 Wall St., 84.9% of black adults have a high school diploma — 4.4 percentage points less than the white high school attainment rate of 89.3%. In Peoria, 79.6% of black adults have a high school diploma, 13.4 percentage points below the area’s white high school attainment rate of 92.9%.

This is one of the largest such gaps in the country, the study says. Those without a high school diploma are more likely to struggle financially, and in Peoria, some 34.5% of black residents live below the poverty line, nearly four times the 9.3% white poverty rate in the metro area.

Additionally, 32.6% of African American heads of households own their homes — less than half the 76.1% white homeownership rate. Last year, homeownership rates for black Americans sat at just 31.4%.

The unemployment rate for black Americans is at 18.1%, while white unemployment sits at 5.5%.

The median income for black community members is at just over $28,000, which is 46.4% of white income. The median income went up from last year, where it sat at $27,085.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fair Housing Act of 1968 banned discriminatory lending, zoning, and renting practices — addressing but not undoing segregation and racial disparities that remain unchanged in many cities and neighborhoods.

A recent federal lawsuit alleges there are still housing codes in place in Peoria being used to unlawfully target African Americans. According to the report, the Illinois-based nonprofit HOPE Fair Housing Center filed the lawsuit in August 2017.

Rockford came in eighth and Springfield came in ninth. Kankakee came in twelfth.

The number one metropolitan area on the 2018 list was Milwaukee, Wis.

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