Place-based Equity Research

New! Equity Considerations for Place-based Advocacy and Decisions Dataset

The Metropolitan Council has published a new dataset, “Equity Considerations for Place-Based Advocacy and Decisions in the Twin Cities Region,” that provides equity-relevant characteristics for each of the 704 census tracts in the Twin Cities region. Formerly known as the Areas of Concentrated Poverty dataset, it has been expanded to provide a much more nuanced portrait of neighborhoods and their residents. 

We want to underscore that alone, this (or any) dataset is incomplete and inadequate for advancing regional equity in the Twin Cities. Without pairing data with community engagement, without pursuing qualitative methods, without tapping into and bringing forward the wisdom of community members themselves—there are limits to our shared understanding and therefore to the ideas and policies and decisions that could improve the lives of people through place-based strategies. We hope all users of this data are committed to accepting these limitations and pursuing these other, valuable ways of knowing as part of any research effort. 


Since 2014, the Metropolitan Council has published data and reports that highlight “Areas of Concentrated Poverty” (ACPs) as a metric for regional equity. It began with the Choice, Place and Opportunity report, and the inclusion of this data was a starting point for raising public awareness around residential segregation and related impacts. A subset of this data, “Areas of Concentrated Poverty where at least 50% of residents are people of color” (ACP50s), became an additional focus. 

Advocates, academics, and policymakers have raised concern with these measures, because they frame low-wealth communities and communities of color as problematic, while the root causes of these inequities – namely structural racism – go unnamed and unaddressed. These advocates are correct. We unequivocally accept responsibility for our role in overemphasizing concentrated poverty and acknowledge the harm that overemphasis has caused.

An early step toward remedy and repair is publishing a new data—this Equity Considerations dataset—that includes the following changes to poverty measures:  
  1. We will continue to identify Areas of Concentrated Poverty for census tracts in the Twin Cities region. 
  2. However, we’ve added a counterpoint to concentrated poverty—concentrated affluence.
  1. We are no longer explicitly identifying “Areas of Concentrated Poverty where 50% or more of residents are people of color” (ACP50s).
For more information on these changes and the range of data included in Equity Considerations, please see the user guide (pdf).

Rethinking Areas of Concentrated Poverty