The Houston region is now the most ethnically diverse large metropolitan area in the country, surpassing New York City.
Two suburbs – Missouri City and Pearland – have become even more diverse than the city of Houston. Other suburbs aren’t far behind.
These findings are from a report released Monday by Rice University researchers, based on an analysis of census data from 1990, 2000 and 2010.
“We are a little United Nations,” Pearland Mayor Tom Reid said. “You go to one of our neighborhoods, and there will be a person from Nigeria living next to somebody from India, living next to somebody from Mexico and somebody from Louisiana.”
The report also found that while residential segregation has dropped over the past 20 years, it remains highest within the city of Houston; most suburban neighborhoods are less racially segregated.
Report co-author Michael Emerson, co-director of the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice, said poverty, aging housing and larger concentrations of minority groups all contribute to continued segregation in Houston.
New neighborhoods often attract people from a range of racial and ethnic groups, he said. “There’s no history that says, ‘You can’t come here.’ ”
Greg addresses that point.
Obviously, some of what leads to remnant segregation of Houstonians is that you have major parts of town fully developed and that have had multiple generations living in close proximity. So it seems logical that some areas of Third Ward and River Oaks would remain as they are. And as you build up undeveloped areas around those parts of town, the pool of buyers is generally going to be more diverse. That’s why you see pockets of Hispanic neighborhoods near Katy and newer Asian home-buyers filling in the area between Alief and Sugar Land, as well as between Alief and Willowbrook Mall. The fact that there was plenty of open space to develop creates this, in other words.
Greg has time series demographic maps to show how the region has changed over the last 30 years. It’s my observation that we’re going to start to see some of this change being driven in the older African-American neighborhoods like the Fifth Ward as well. That area has been losing population over the years, and as that happens more space opens up, which along with its proximity to downtown will begin to make it more attractive to developers looking for affordable parcels of land. In some other places, open space has been there all along but has not been used. Go drive Hiram Clarke from US90 to Fuqua to see what I mean. In another 20 years, I think we’ll see quite a bit more change. The full Kinder Institute report is here if you want more.