Dallas has one of the country’s highest rates of uninsured residents. Only Laredo and Brownsville, Texas have more uninsured inhabitants than us. WalletHub researchers ranking 180 metropolitan areas for “neediness” revealed all five of the most-uninsured cities are in Texas (Garland and Houston take the four and five spot).

As for our overall neediness, based on 28 key indicators including rate of health insured, child poverty, food insecurity, homelessness, overcrowding of homes, adequacy of household utilities, depression and suicide rates, our city comes in at a 38.

In overall “health and safety” we rank 20 out of the 180. We are number 60 in “economic wellbeing.”

According to the researchers, 11.4% of the U.S. population lived in poverty in 2020 and more than 580,000 people were homeless at some point that year.

Source: WalletHub
Some 9,000 people in Dallas and Collin County applied for homeless assistance in 2020, according to data from U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department. And the last homeless count showed almost 4,570 people on our city’s streets on a given night.

COVID has made a tough situation worse, according to United Way’s Ashley Brundage, who spoke with The Advocate for a story about evictions. And the economic and housing problems are disproportionately affecting people of color and women who are heads of households she has said.

She and other experts agree the amount of pandemic-related resources and collaboration of charities and government efforts could be a silver lining.

“If anything good has come out of this, it is how well our organizations across the community have coalesced and come together to serve clients,” Brundage says. “We keep saying to each other, ‘We can’t let this go. We are creating so many good things. We’ve made such good headway that once COVID is gone, we can’t let that falter.’”

According to Lenna Nepomnyaschy, a professor at Rutgers who commented on WalletHub’s study, pandemic relief funding reduced child poverty by 40% and kept millions of children out of poverty. She says the high cost of child care and housing are the biggest challenges for financially struggling Americans.

She says the best thing local governments can do now is take advantage of new data.

“Relying on a plethora of very high-quality research that is being produced by numerous organizations showing what works and what doesn’t should be the main focus of local authorities when outlining strategies,” she says. “People need money, they need paid sick leave, they need childcare, housing, protection from eviction, better jobs and better wages.”

See WalletHub’s full list, more expert commentary and exact methodology here.