The geographic distribution of HUD-assisted households in Memphis has changed dramatically over the last 15 years. Since the 1990s, Memphis has redeveloped five properties with HOPE VI grants; the city now has only one remaining traditional family public housing development (Foote Homes). Like other large city housing authorities, MHA now relies heavily on vouchers, and assisted households are now dispersed throughout the city. However, most MHA HCV recipients, while they are more dispersed, still live in very poor and predominantly African-American neighborhoods.
By population, Memphis is considered a large city, with 646,889 residents as of the 2010 census. However, it has an unusually large geographical footprint (315 square miles) and a relatively low population density for a city of its size (2,053.3 persons per square mile).  One mayor's office official noted that the city has become more geographically dispersed in recent decades by incorporating surrounding areas, though the total population has changed little since the 1960s. Memphis' increased size presents a challenge because of the overall high poverty level and extremely limited public transportation system—without prompting, all key stakeholders raised public transportation as a key challenge.
Unemployment in Memphis is very high; the 2010 American Community Survey (ACS) showed unemployment among those over 16 years old and in the labor force was at 14.9 percent in Memphis, compared to 11.3 percent in Tennessee, and 9.7 nationally. Memphis also has a very high poverty rate; approximately 21.9 percent of families living or having recently lived below the poverty level in 2010, compared to 13.4 state-wide and 11.3 percent nation-wide. Child poverty is particularly high in Memphis with a stunning 39.9 percent of all Memphis children living in households in poverty, compared to 25.7 percent statewide and 21.6 percent nationwide. Maps 1 and 2 (below) respectively illustrate the geographic dispersion of poverty level and the percent of resident who are African American/Black (non-Hispanic) by Census tract.
Map 1. Family Poverty Level by Census Tract (2006-2010 ACS Estimates)
Map 2. Percent of the Population who are African American/Black (non-Hispanic), by Census Tract
"Memphis Final Brief.pdf" (pdf, 717.21Kb)
"Appendix A-Focus Group Materials.pdf" (pdf, 174.61Kb)
"Appendix B-Maps.pdf" (pdf, 3.81Mb)