The people who live in Kansas City north of the Missouri River play a crucial role in building a thriving future for the entire city as well as our metropolitan area.
The part of Kansas City in Clay and Platte counties has more than doubled in population in 30 years, growing from 76,000 to 157,000 people in the 2010 Census.
For starters, some stereotypes are pretty much dead on: Kansas City north of the river is starkly different from the rest of the city south of the river, which has been losing population since 1970 and is down to 303,000 people.
The northern part of the city is predominately white, more affluent, features newer housing and is populated by many people who don’t care much about Kansas City south of the river, which contains mostly minority residents and is economically poorer.
Wait. Scratch that last bit about not caring about the rest of the city. Because it’s not true, at least in a significant way, which is positive news for all local residents.
That leads us to the 10 essential things to know about Kansas City north of the river.
• Voters there are more likely than they used to be to support initiatives promoted by City Hall.
Earlier this year more than 60 percent of voters up north helped renew a property tax that primarily provides indigent care at Truman Medical Center near downtown. Eight years earlier, the same voters hadrejected
that tax by a 60-40 margin.
Last August voters north of the river voters surprised almost everyone by strongly backing a successful city sales tax increase for roads and parks.
No longer is that part of the city considered an automatic “no” vote on key issues. We’re all in this together, seems to be the motto, a far cry from earlier years.
• Residents north of the river are overwhelmingly white, at 83.4 percent, compared with 46.7 percent south of the river.
• Black population is 7.6 percent north of the river vs. 41.5 percent in the city’s southern parts.
But black population nearly tripled — growing by 7,359 people — between 2000 and 2010 north of the river. Meanwhile, black population south of the river dropped by 7,799, the first time that number had declined in decades.
• People of Hispanic origin make up 6.8 percent of the population up north and 11.6 percent south of the river.
• Residents north of the river are more affluent. Their median household income is $58,400 — a bit above the region’s median income — compared to only $35,000 south of the river.
Just over 42 percent of households north of the river earn less than $50,000 a year; that number jumps to 65 percent in the south.
Conversely, 22 percent of households up north make more than $100,000 annually; only 12 percent do south of the river.
• The median housing value is higher north of the river: $165,000 vs. $116,000 south of the river.
• Houses are much newer north of the river. Almost 75 percent of them have been built since 1970 compared to only 25 percent south of the river.
• Only 7.5 percent of housing units up north are vacant, compared to 15.8 percent south of the river.
• The average public assistance for households north of the river is $1,000 vs. $4,400 for households south of the river.
• Finally, Kansas City north of the river could have more residents than the city south of the river sometime in the 2030s, based on recent population trends.
As the years roll along, Kansas Citians in Clay and Platte counties will continue to gain political and economic power. How they use that influence will affect the futures of the whole city and this region.