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20 US Cities Ranked with the Worst Quality of Life


Unfortunately, there are many cities in the United States of America that suffer from job losses, loss of population, increased housing costs and heightened crime. Many of these cities were once thriving centers of industry, manufacturing, agriculture and other economic opportunities. These cities were hit hard mostly by shutting down or moving industry and lessening populations. Some cities' residents suffer from high cost of living, high unemployment, lack of educational opportunity, pollution and high crime. The following cities have the highest poverty levels in the United States. The percentage reflects the poverty rate of each city below the national average Here are the 20 US cities ranked with the worst quality of life.

20. Union City, Georgia - Poverty Rate: 20.7%

Union City has a poverty rate of 20.7% and is one of the USA's 20 worst places to live for quality of life. There is high unemployment in Union City and a high rate of violent crime. The city was founded and developed at a railroad juncture. It was once home to the Farmer's Union. The town now has 200% more violent crimes than any other city in the state of Georgia. The population is currently 20,700. The average value of a home in Union City is $81,900. The average income is $35,600.

19. Waianae, Hawaii - Poverty Rate: 27%

Despite its paradise location, Hawaii has several poor cities that are not actually great to live in. This is mostly due to high unemployment and high cost of living. Waianae is home to the state's largest homeless camp "Pu''uhonua oWaiance". Goods in Waianae cost 61.4% more than in other areas of the United States. There are 13,600 residents in Waianae. The average income is $60,000. The average home in Waianae costs $340,000.

18. Trenton, New Jersey - Poverty Rate: 27.3%

Trenton is New Jersey's capital city and is located the central western area of the state. The city flourished during the nineteenth and first part of the twentieth century because it was a major manufacturing city. The population grew and employment for the working class was high. The city manufactured rubber, cigars, wire rope and ceramics. The manufacturing industry died down during the last half of the twentieth century and residents found work outside of the city. The oldest industry to remain in the city is the Italian People's Bakery which was established in 1936. Today Trenton has a population of 85,000. The average home costs $96,000, and the average income is $35,000.

17. Anniston, Alabama - Poverty Rate: 29.5%

Anniston, Alabama has a low population for a city its size and a high rate of violent crime. The city was one of Alabama's first planned communities. Located along the Blue Mountain slope, the city's mineral resources were important during the Civil War. Woodstock Iron Company kept the city going for several decades. The city was also a health resort during the early twentieth century and helped the country's defense industry during World War II. Unfortunately, the city's' population and employment declined over the past half century. The population is 22,000. The average cost of a home is $95,70, and the average income is $32,000. Anniston is the second most violent city in Alabama to live behind Selma.

16. Bessemer, Alabama - Poverty Rate: 29.7%

Bessemer, Alabama has a poverty rate of 29.7%. The population is 26,600. The average home value is $84,000, and the average income is $32,000. Violent crime is high, and residents of the rural community don't have easy access to grocery stores or supermarkets. Located southwest of Birmingham, Bessemer grew during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century due to iron ore, coal and limestone. The steel industry provided jobs until the natural resources were depleted. Bessemer was recently named the worst city to live in Alabama.

15. California City, California - Poverty Rate: 29.9%

California City has the third largest land area in California encompassing 206,631 square miles. California City is located 100 miles north of Los Angeles and 18 miles northwest of Edwards air Force Base. The city was incorporated in 1965. It has a PGA golf course, but unfortunately not much else. The population is just 13,500 residents. Unemployment is high. The average household income is $45,000 a year while the average home in California City costs $100,000.

14. Makaha, Hawaii - Poverty Rate: 30.1%

Although many people dream of living in Hawaii, it's not all that it seems to be. Sure the tropical climate, beautiful beaches, jungles and breathtaking mountains make the state attractive. However, Hawaii has some of the poorest cities to live in America. This is mostly due to high unemployment combined with high cost of living. Makaha, Oahu is the poorest city in Hawaii to live. Resting in the Makaha Valley at the base of Mt. Ka'ata, Makaha is the home of big wave surfing, and since the 1950's has been home to the annual Buffalo's Big Board Contest. However unemployment in the city with 8,800 residents his high while the cost of living is also high. An average home in Makaha costs $400,000, 3 to 4 times the national average.

13. Bridgeton, New Jersey - Poverty Rate: 32.3%

Post Civil War, Bridgeton, New Jersey flourished as a center of industry and agriculture with several factories that employed working class Americans for the next century. Unfortunately, factories eventually closed, and Bridgeton lost many businesses. The city experienced increased cost of living, decreased population, increase in crime and increase in poverty. Bridgeton is located in southern New Jersey. It has about 25,000 residents. The median cost of a home is $103,500, and the average household income is $34,000. Bridgeton is considered the worst city to live in New Jersey. Recently, there has been a campaign to encourage economic development. The city hosts an "Urban Enterprise Zone" that encourages employment and a low sales tax to encourage spending in the Bridgeton.

12. Hammond, Louisiana - Poverty Rate: 34.1%

Hammond, Louisiana is located in the southeastern end of the state about 45 miles east of Baton Rouge. The city has a population of about 20,300, a median home value of about $150,000 and a median household income of just $37,000. The city Civil War as a center for shoemaking for the Confederate Army. As the railroad system developed, so did light industry including shipping strawberries north. Today, Hammond is a poor city with a poverty rate of 34.1% below the national average. There is a high rate of unemployment, and nearly half of the city's population do not have easy access to grocery stores or super markets. Violent crime has risen in Hammond, and the quality of life is not good for many of its residents.

11. Robstown, Texas - Poverty Rate: 35.1%

Robstown, Texas was founded in 1906. The small town is a western suburb of Corpus Cristi. The poverty level of its 11,500 residents is 35.1% below the national average. More than 4,000 of its residents live below the poverty level. The city is one of Texas poorest. The average value of a home in Robstown is only $54,000. The average income of residents of Robstown is just $23,000.

10. Prichard, Alabama - Poverty Rate: 35.1%

Prichard, Alabama is one of the top ten poorest cities to live in the USA and residents have a poor quality of life. The city is located in southwestern Alabama near Mobile. The city was once a slave port, but after the country's Civil War, the city developed slowly but steadily. Although it was difficult for veterans to reestablish themselves, eventually the city opened ship building facilities and paper mills. The city developed defense industries during World War II. Following the Civil Rights Movement, many of the black residents left the city since they were no longer segregated. During the 1980's, Prichard suffered from closed factories. Unfortunately, in 2015 the city's Restoration Youth Academy was discovered to have many cases of abuse. Three pastors of the Academy were convicted of child abuse in 2017. The population of Prichard is 22,000. The average home value is $67,500, and the average income is $25,800 with unemployment remaining high.

9. Avena, California - Poverty Rate: 36.3%

Avena is located in central California 35 miles southwest of Hanford. The city was founded and grew after the discovery of oil in 1929. By the 1950's, the oil reserves were depleted and the economy died in Avena. There are currently only about 13,100 residents of the city. The average income is $35,000. The average cost of a home is $130,000. With high unemployment, Avena is the one of the states poorest cities and one of the USA's poorest cities.

8. Detroit, Michigan - Poverty Rate: 37.9%

Detroit, Michigan was once a booming Midwest industrial city as a port center and automotive manufacturing center. Detroit was home to three major automobile manufacturers: Ford Motor Company, General Motors and Chrysler. The 1970's gas crisis hit the city's industry hard. Like many Midwestern "Rust Belt" cities, Detroit suffered from loss of jobs, a fleeing working class population, urban blight and a big increase in crime. Detroit is the United State's largest city to file for bankruptcy in 2013. Detroit is currently undergoing a renovation and revitalization campaign and hopes to attract more business headquarters to the city as well as safer neighborhoods for residents to live. Detroit has a population of 670,000 and a median home value of just $43,000.

7. Adelanto, California - Poverty Rate: 38.5%

Adelanto, California is located in San Bernadito County in the Mohave Desert. The city was founded in 1915 by E.H. Richardson. Richardson invented the Hotpoint electric iron and sold the patent to buy the property. He developed Adelanto as one of the first planned communities in southern California. The city's climate helped fruit trees grow and the fruit and cider industry flourished during the Great Depression. Fruit farms were later replaced by poultry farms. The city of about 33,000 residents has limited job and educational opportunities. Those residents face an average 40 minute commute to jobs which causes added stress.

6. Florida City, Florida - Poverty Rate: 41%

Florida City, Florida is one of the top 10 poorest cities in the United States, and it is the most dangerous city to live in Florida. The small Miami suburb has a population of about 12,000. The median cost of a home in Florida City is $110,000, and the median household income income is $37,500. Florida City experienced population growth in 2017, but with this was an increase in crime. The chance of being a victim of violent crime in the city is nearly 129 for 1,000 residents. More than 40% of the city's residents live below the national poverty rate. The city which neighbors Homestead is also the home of the Homestead Correctional Institute.

5. East St. Louis, Illinois - Poverty Rate: 43.1%

East St. Louis, Illinois is considered a part of Greater St. Louis. Located just across the Mississippi River from the Missouri city, East St. Louis was a huge industrial center of the Midwest especially during and after World War II. The city was also a major part of the blues and rock and roll music scene during the mid twentieth century but unfortunately also a venue for race riots. Like other Midwestern "Rust Belt" cities, East St. Louis suffered during the last half of the twentieth century from decreased industry and population. The city experienced increased poverty and violent crime. Although there are redevelopment projects underway, East St. Louis has a median house value of just $55,000 and a median household income of just $20,600.

4. Immokolee, Florida - Poverty Rate: 43.4%

Immokolee is the poorest city in Florida. The city's population is mostly made up of migrant workers who harvest tomatos. Agriculture has been a staple of Immokolee since the area's swamps were drained and a temporary railroad was built. However, the city's poverty rate is 43.4% today. There are 25,600 residents, mostly migrant workers who live in and suffer from harsh conditions. The average income in Immokolee is less than $30,000. The average cost of a home is nearly $100,000.

3. Bastrop, Louisiana - Poverty Rate: 43.5%

Bastrop is the worst place to live in Louisiana and one of the poorest cities in the country. The poverty rate is 43.5%. The city suffers from a declining population due to lack of jobs. Violent crime is high in Bastrop. Bastrop was founded in the mid nineteenth century by a Dutch businessman and became a Confederate stronghold during the Civil War. The was home to an the International Paper Company's paper mill which was a large employer, but the mill closed in 2008. The poultry plant, Pilgrim's Pride" also closed. Poverty and crime are high in Bastrop, and quality of life is not great. The average household income of residents of Bastrop is just $31,000. The average home value is just $73,000.

2. Highland Park, Michigan - Poverty Rate: 49%

Highland Park, Michigan is the second poorest city in the nation and Michigan's poorest city. The city has a high unemployment rate, a high crime rate and its poverty level is nearly 50% of the national average. Highland Park was once a major part of the USA's growing automobile industry in the early twentieth century. Henry Ford purchased 160 acres in the Detroit suburb and built an assembly line there in 1913. The city's population grew. However, as the automobile industry declined during the later half of the century and so did the population of Highland Park. Today the population is 10,900. The average home value is $33,500 which is in the bottom 10% of the nation. The average income for a resident of Highland Park is only $15,700.

1. Mendota, California - Poverty Rate: 49.5%

Mendota is the poorest city in the United States. The small California town was once a thriving agricultural center. Located in Fresno County, Mendota lies along the San Joaquin River and was founded in the late nineteenth century due to its location along the South Pacific Railroad and its climate which allowed for the growth of fruit especially cantaloupe. Unfortunately, the city suffered from drought and the country's 2009 recession. While some agriculture has rebounded as well as a local winery, the city of Mendota continues to suffer from poverty. Unemployment is high, and educational opportunities are slim. Today the city has a population of about 11,300. An average home costs $140,000. and the average income is just $27,500.

Dana Hanson

Written by Dana Hanson

Dana has extensive professional writing experience including technical and report writing, informational articles, persuasive articles, contrast and comparison, grant applications, and advertisement. She also enjoys creative writing, content writing on nearly any topic (particularly business and lifestyle), because as a lifelong learner, she loves to do research and possess a high skill level in this area. Her academic degrees include AA social Sci/BA English/MEd Adult Ed & Community & Human Resource Development and ABD in PhD studies in Indust & Org Psychology.

Read more posts by Dana Hanson

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