Gilbert has the nation’s second-lowest percentage of residents living in poverty for municipalities of more than 100,000 people, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report on poverty.
Only 3.2 percent of Gilbert’s 109,547 residents lived below the poverty line in 1999, according to data gathered for the 2000 census.
Gilbert shared its percentage with Livonia, Mich., and Overland Park, Kan., suburbs of Detroit and Kansas City, Kan., respectively. Naperville, Ill., a suburb of Chicago, was lowest at 2.2 percent, while the West Valley city of Peoria was 10 th at 5.3 percent. On the other end, Brownsville, Texas, led the nation with 36 percent of its population living below the poverty line.
Gilbert Mayor Steve Berman said the figures stem from the town’s high building standards and that most homes have been built in the past 20 years.
"It really is not about us not allowing poor people in town, we just don’t have housing that is 30 to 40 years old where poorer people typically live," Berman said.
The federal government sets the poverty threshold based on family size and age. Income then determines the poverty line.
The report states that 12.4 percent, or 33.9 million people, lived in poverty in 1999 in the nation. This was a decline from 13.1 percent in 1989.
Arizona had 13.9 percent of its population living below the poverty line in 1999, down from 15.7 percent in 1989. New Hampshire had the lowest percentage — 6.5 percent — living in poverty, followed by Connecticut and Minnesota at 7.9 percent. Mississippi had the highest poverty level at 19.9 percent.
According to the report, 9.1 percent of whites live in poverty, followed by 12.6 percent of Asians, 22.6 percent of Hispanics, 24.9 percent of blacks and 25.7 percent of American Indians.
Also according to the report, which was released last week, 6.6 percent of married couples with children lived below the poverty level, while 17.7 percent of male-only parent households with children and 34.3 percent of female-only parent households with children lived in poverty.