Texas’s “poorest” county is located in the Rio Grande Valley

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A new report from 24/7 Wall Street based on the U.S Census Bureau’s American Community Survey considers Starr County to be the poorest county in the entire state of Texas.

The review bases the rankings on household income, poverty and unemployment rates. Many people said that cost of living should have also been taken into consideration because living in Starr County does not feel like living in the poorest county in Texas.

“I think we do pretty alright for being a little town. It does alright. I don TMt think it TMs that poor like people say,” Starr County resident Marisa said.

However, based on the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey from 2009 to 2013, Starr County’s median household income was just under $25,000, which is less than half of the median household income for the entire state of Texas. A total of 39.2 percent of the population in Starr County are living below the federal poverty line.

“Let me just that poverty is a one of those words that gets used as a buzz word often in government and what does it really mean? It means that the government got together, crunched some numbers and that TMs what they do and they have to identify something that they consider poverty,” said Rio Grande City Mayor Ruben Villarreal.

Villarreal said the term ~poverty TM carries a stigma, but the numbers don’t paint an accurate picture.

“When people talk about poverty, I think it TMs a very shady, grey type of concept because I don TMt think it TMs black and white. What’s poor here probably isn’t poor in places like Delaware or New Jersey. Just to give you an example, the median income in New Jersey is twice of ours, but the cost of living must be extraordinarily high as well,” described the mayor.

Villarreal said it’s all relative.

“$25,000 doesn TMt sound like a lot of money, but down here in Starr County because we have extended families, because cost of living is cheap, that can get you pretty far,” he said.

In fact, the mayor points out that in his city, there isn TMt a homeless population.

“Anybody who is out there walking the streets, they have somewhere to go,” he said.

Even amid cold weather, Rio Grande City does not receive any requests for shelter, Villarreal said.

He agrees that unemployment is an issue in Starr County. However, he believes that state and federal government have not done enough to help combat the problem at a local level.

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