FACT CHECK: Rashida Tlaib Says Her District Is The Third Poorest In The Country

Aryssa Damron | Fact Check Reporter

Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib claimed that her congressional district, Michigan’s 13th, is the third poorest in the country.

Verdict: True

When measuring by median household income, Tlaib’s district is the third poorest in the country, excluding Puerto Rico. Her district has a median household income of roughly $35,000, compared to $28,000 in New York’s 15th district and nearly $32,000 in Kentucky’s fifth district.

Fact Check:

“I have the third poorest congressional district in the country,” Tlaib told the CEOs of the nation’s top credit reporting agencies when they appeared before the House Financial Services Committee Feb. 26.

She was asking the CEOs about the way credit scores are used to influence the cost of insurance, particularly auto insurance, for poorer constituents who may have lower credit scores than wealthier individuals, perhaps due to a lack of access to credit-building opportunities.

The median household income in Tlaib’s district, which includes part of Detroit, is $35,365, according to estimates from the 2017 American Community Survey (ACS) conducted by the Census Bureau. The district has a population of 674,157, and 29.6 percent of those people lived below the poverty level in the previous 12 months.

The poverty level is used to estimate an individual’s eligibility for some federal programs, such as food stamps. The average poverty threshold for a family of four, as measured by the Census Bureau, was $25,094 in 2017.

The median household income for Tlaib’s district falls far below the national median – $61,372 – but it is not the poorest district in the country. Kentucky’s fifth district and New York’s 15th district both report lower median household incomes per the 2017 ACS. Puerto Rico also has a low median household income, $19,343, though Puerto Rico is represented in Congress by a non-voting resident commissioner.

Kentucky’s fifth district, represented by Republican Rep. Hal Rodgers, had a median household income of $31,731, and 29.1 percent of those people lived in poverty.

The median household income in New York’s 15th district, which is represented by Democratic Rep. José Serrano, was $28,042, with 36.2 percent of people living below the poverty level.

Tlaib was elected in 2018 to replace Democratic Rep. John Conyers, who began serving in Congress during the presidency of Lyndon Johnson and resigned in light of sexual harassment allegations in 2017.

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Aryssa Damron

Fact Check Reporter