Detroit tops list of America’s neediest cities — though number 6 may shock you

WASHINGTON — Poverty is a problem that comes in many forms across the United States. From homelessness to food insecurity, a new survey examined the problems facing residents in America’s most populated cities and finds no city is in more need of help than Detroit, Michigan. This may not surprise some, but many of the other big cities finishing among America’s “neediest” may shock you.

Following the financial collapse of 2020, due to COVID-19, the WalletHub study looked at 28 key indicators of health and well-being in over 180 U.S. cities. The team boiled all those factors down into two scores: “Economic Well-Being,” which measured things including poverty rates, unemployment rates, and homelessness; and “Health & Safety,” which looked at food insecurity, health insurance rates, and adequate housing facilities.

Those scores put Detroit at the top of the list of the country’s “neediest” cities. Michigan’s largest city had the worst score for Economic Well-Being and the second-worst for Health & Safety, finishing only behind Springfield, Missouri in terms of insurance and housing measures.

Rounding out the top five neediest U.S. cities are Brownsville, Texas (2nd), Cleveland, Ohio (3rd), Fresno, California (4th), Gulfport, Mississippi (5th).

L.A. among the neediest?!

Despite its reputation for glitz and glamor, the study ranks Los Angeles, California as the 6th neediest city in the nation! Out of 182 U.S. cities, L.A. ranks 18th in terms of the worst economic well-being in the country and third in terms of health and safety.

Specifically, Los Angeles tied for the highest homelessness rate in the country and has the fifth-highest number of homes with inadequate kitchen facilities.

The news doesn’t get any better for L.A.’s neighbors either. Overall, 29 California cities made the list of the neediest in the United States. In San Francisco, the WalletHub team finds San Fran was one of the cities tying for the highest homelessness rate, while also having the highest number of homes with inadequate kitchens and plumbing!

Big states have big problems

California isn’t the only big state facing many issues in 2021. When it comes to health insurance, it turns out Texas is the last place you want to be if you’re sick. The five cities with the highest rates of uninsured Americans are all in “The Lone Star State.” These cities include Brownsville, Laredo, Dallas, Garland, and Houston.

Source: WalletHub

Meanwhile, in New York, homelessness continues to be a problem no one seems able to solve. Despite recent comments by city officials citing “historic gains” and “profound progress,” New York City tied for the highest rate of homeless residents in the nation. Overall, NYC finished as the 28th neediest city in America, mainly because of its poor economic well-being rank (15th).

“The Empire State” also appears to have a problem with child poverty, according to the report. Although only four cities in New York made the 2021 list, two (Rochester and Buffalo) finished in the top five cities with the highest child poverty rates in the country.

Many challenges heading into 2022

As the calendars turn to 2022, researchers say American families will be facing many of the same issues that landed their cities on the list of the neediest in 2021. One of the biggest issues is the continuing uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Certainly, the impact of COVID-19 has disproportionately affected families with low incomes. Many families on the lower end of the income distribution worked jobs that could not easily be transitioned online. In my research with families with low incomes, we see many folks are currently facing high rates of food insecurity and cannot pay all of their bills or rent. Many of these families are also noting that basic expenses – like food or other essentials – are costing more to cover now than they did one year ago,” says Natasha Pilkauskas, an associate professor at the University of Michigan, in a statement.

Neediest Cities in America

Overall Rank*  City Total Score  Economic Well-Being  Health & Safety 
1 Detroit, MI 63.79 1 2
2 Brownsville, TX 57.11 7 7
3 Cleveland, OH 57.02 6 8
4 Fresno, CA 56.51 2 57
5 Gulfport, MS 55.91 18 3
6 Los Angeles, CA 55.38 5 28
7 Newark, NJ 54.87 4 46
8 Baltimore, MD 54.52 3 55
9 New Orleans, LA 54.02 10 31
10 St. Louis, MO 53.74 21 9
11 Laredo, TX 53.64 27 12
12 Shreveport, LA 53.13 9 51
13 Miami, FL 52.94 19 25
14 Memphis, TN 52.73 22 18
15 Jackson, MS 52.68 13 50
16 Birmingham, AL 52.41 41 4
17 Philadelphia, PA 52.28 12 69
18 Richmond, VA 52.01 11 71
19 Hialeah, FL 51.64 26 35
20 Augusta, GA 51.24 17 62
21 Chattanooga, TN 51.20 40 14
22 Indianapolis, IN 51.14 14 89
23 Atlanta, GA 51.03 8 107
24 San Bernardino, CA 50.78 23 49
25 Baton Rouge, LA 50.56 31 45
26 Mobile, AL 50.35 38 22
27 Little Rock, AR 49.47 64 13
28 New York, NY 49.43 15 120
29 Fort Smith, AR 49.10 84 6
30 Corpus Christi, TX 49.00 93 5
31 Toledo, OH 48.97 43 36
32 Dover, DE 48.60 16 124
33 Houston, TX 48.55 69 10
34 Rochester, NY 48.54 29 102
35 Albuquerque, NM 48.52 46 33
36 Las Cruces, NM 48.48 56 30
37 Oakland, CA 48.37 37 58
38 Dallas, TX 48.19 65 20
39 Stockton, CA 48.14 32 100
40 Tulsa, OK 48.09 77 11
41 Columbia, SC 48.07 34 94
42 Springfield, MO 47.87 114 1
43 Huntington, WV 47.69 45 52
44 Wilmington, DE 47.64 28 118
45 Long Beach, CA 47.56 30 122
46 New Haven, CT 47.50 20 134
47 El Paso, TX 47.45 63 34
48 Columbus, GA 47.42 57 41
49 Tucson, AZ 47.37 62 37
50 San Antonio, TX 47.33 68 26
51 Montgomery, AL 47.29 39 87
52 Buffalo, NY 47.08 42 78
53 Milwaukee, WI 47.07 44 76
54 Akron, OH 47.01 49 61
55 Providence, RI 46.90 25 127
56 Oklahoma City, OK 46.71 79 24
57 San Francisco, CA 46.62 75 23
58 Knoxville, TN 46.60 71 39
59 Bakersfield, CA 46.59 54 59
60 Lewiston, ME 46.35 101 17
61 Las Vegas, NV 46.13 53 77
62 Kansas City, MO 46.11 82 32
63 Lubbock, TX 46.04 102 21
64 Glendale, AZ 45.69 67 64
65 Phoenix, AZ 45.69 66 65
66 Fayetteville, NC 45.64 60 83
67 Fort Lauderdale, FL 45.55 52 96
68 Cincinnati, OH 45.48 48 101
69 Honolulu, HI 45.10 80 48
70 Norfolk, VA 45.04 35 132
71 Portland, OR 44.91 87 47
72 North Las Vegas, NV 44.82 55 106
73 Manchester, NH 44.49 74 73
74 Wichita, KS 44.45 108 27
75 Jacksonville, FL 44.43 73 82
76 Washington, DC 44.42 33 155
77 Chicago, IL 44.38 51 123
78 Spokane, WA 44.29 129 15
79 Bridgeport, CT 44.20 59 115
80 Amarillo, TX 44.16 117 16
81 Greensboro, NC 44.14 91 56
82 St. Paul, MN 44.11 61 114
82 Boston, MA 44.11 24 167
84 Sacramento, CA 43.85 50 129
85 Newport News, VA 43.84 81 93
86 Grand Rapids, MI 43.74 95 66
86 Nashville, TN 43.74 89 75
88 Salt Lake City, UT 43.66 133 19
89 Modesto, CA 43.54 47 137
90 Charleston, WV 43.38 124 29
91 Winston-Salem, NC 43.28 72 105
92 Anaheim, CA 43.16 105 60
93 Reno, NV 43.15 121 40
94 Oxnard, CA 42.96 70 113
95 Denver, CO 42.70 98 85
96 Tampa, FL 42.67 85 104
97 Tallahassee, FL 42.66 58 139
98 Santa Clarita, CA 42.66 36 166
99 Jersey City, NJ 42.63 94 92
100 Grand Prairie, TX 42.57 119 53
101 St. Petersburg, FL 42.54 106 79
102 Orlando, FL 42.48 86 108
103 Anchorage, AK 42.36 143 38
104 Huntsville, AL 42.34 103 91
105 Garland, TX 42.30 109 72
106 Fort Worth, TX 42.26 112 67
107 Salem, OR 42.19 128 70
108 Columbus, OH 42.08 78 125
109 Seattle, WA 41.89 122 63
110 Santa Ana, CA 41.88 96 109
111 Rapid City, SD 41.83 120 86
112 Des Moines, IA 41.75 90 119
113 Tempe, AZ 41.66 107 98
114 Louisville, KY 41.59 110 90
115 Ontario, CA 41.39 99 110
116 Arlington, TX 41.32 125 80
117 Mesa, AZ 41.30 97 117
118 Omaha, NE 41.26 115 88
119 Tacoma, WA 41.25 148 44
120 Irving, TX 41.22 126 83
121 Minneapolis, MN 41.17 83 131
122 Missoula, MT 40.97 157 42
123 Garden Grove, CA 40.83 113 103
124 West Valley City, UT 40.61 145 74
125 Santa Rosa, CA 40.51 76 146
126 Nampa, ID 40.49 134 95
127 Austin, TX 40.40 140 81
128 Worcester, MA 40.09 92 141
129 Colorado Springs, CO 39.88 138 99
130 Riverside, CA 39.65 123 121
131 Fontana, CA 39.36 88 154
132 Glendale, CA 39.26 136 111
133 Charleston, SC 38.98 100 147
134 Moreno Valley, CA 38.68 104 145
135 Fort Wayne, IN 38.55 116 140
136 Pittsburgh, PA 38.50 132 128
137 Charlotte, NC 38.45 127 135
138 Aurora, CO 38.19 142 126
139 Burlington, VT 38.13 111 144
140 Vancouver, WA 38.07 163 68
141 Billings, MT 38.06 171 54
142 Juneau, AK 37.88 177 43
143 Durham, NC 37.63 141 133
144 Lexington-Fayette, KY 37.13 130 149
145 Portland, ME 36.96 150 136
146 San Diego, CA 36.50 131 158
147 Yonkers, NY 36.29 137 159
148 Lincoln, NE 36.07 154 130
149 San Jose, CA 35.87 118 170
150 Port St. Lucie, FL 35.81 147 148
151 Oceanside, CA 35.80 139 165
152 Cheyenne, WY 35.74 167 112
153 Casper, WY 35.64 173 97
154 Boise, ID 35.52 168 116
155 Cape Coral, FL 35.30 149 153
156 Henderson, NV 35.23 146 162
157 Pembroke Pines, FL 34.96 152 150
158 Chula Vista, CA 34.86 135 172
159 Peoria, AZ 34.69 158 142
160 Cedar Rapids, IA 34.62 153 157
161 Scottsdale, AZ 34.37 156 152
162 Aurora, IL 34.29 144 173
163 Raleigh, NC 34.21 151 164
164 Chandler, AZ 33.33 161 156
165 Rancho Cucamonga, CA 32.99 155 169
166 Chesapeake, VA 32.67 160 168
167 Sioux Falls, SD 32.60 170 151
168 Fargo, ND 32.37 174 138
169 Nashua, NH 31.76 169 160
170 Gilbert, AZ 31.20 172 163
171 Madison, WI 30.98 165 176
172 Huntington Beach, CA 30.96 162 177
173 Irvine, CA 30.89 159 181
174 Plano, TX 30.76 178 143
175 Virginia Beach, VA 30.53 166 179
176 Fremont, CA 30.15 164 182
177 Warwick, RI 28.67 176 175
178 Overland Park, KS 28.29 180 161
179 South Burlington, VT 28.15 175 178
180 Bismarck, ND 27.15 182 171
181 Pearl City, HI 26.70 179 180
182 Columbia, MD 26.26 181 174

Note: *No. 1 = Neediest
With the exception of “Total Score,” all of the columns in the table above depict the relative rank of that city, where a rank of 1 represents the worst conditions for that metric category.