-By Seth Daniel
Revere jumped over the 50,000-population mark for the first time in its history amid the surging growth of the city’s minority community – most especially the Hispanic population, according to official Census 2010 numbers unveiled last week.
The city’s overall population surged from 47,283 to 51,755.
For that, state officials identified Revere as the 4th fastest growing city (by number) in the entire state.
A similar story played out in nearly every community surrounding Revere, where the Hispanic population spiked from 2000 levels – levels that had previously shown dramatic growth.
The identified Hispanic population in Revere went from 10 percent in 2000 to 25 percent in 2010 – which reflected a growth of some 8,152 residents. There were 12,617 Hispanic residents identified in Revere, as opposed to just 1,631 in 1990 – a tremendous demographic change.
Meanwhile, the white population in Revere – while still the largest racial or ethnic group – declined 10 percent from 2000. The white population in Revere went from 84 percent to 74 percent.
Additionally, the non-Hispanic white population sat at just 62 percent.
The Census form allows Hispanics to classify themselves as white and Hispanic or just Hispanic. Excluding those who are white and Hispanic, the white population was 62 percent.
There were 38,349 residents classified as white in the Census numbers.
Meanwhile, the black/African American population increased from 2.9 percent to 4.3 percent, and the Asian population increased from 4.5 percent to 5.6 percent.
The white population was the only racial or ethnic group to show a decline, and in considering the ‘white only’ category (62 percent), the numbers revealed Revere to be very close to becoming a majority minority community.
Many earlier indications were that urban cities – who all showed increases in their minority communities – were experiencing “white flight.” That term describes a trend where white families move to the suburbs as minority families increase in numbers in urban areas.
Mayor Tom Ambrosino said that he didn’t believe “white flight” was happening in any significant way in Revere. He said that the population increased overall, and that was due to an increase in minority groups.
“I think in Revere it’s not a function of white flight,” he said. “We’re growing in population and that growth is coming from diverse ethnic groups. At the same time our white base is shrinking through deaths. I don’t think it’s white flight. I don’t get that sense. Some of that occurs, but I don’t see that as a major problem for Revere. I think our growth in population shows that our vibrancy, attractiveness and success of the school system is very good. These are things that have led to population growth.”
That population growth is good news for the City, which finally has gotten its official number over 50,000. Such a jump means that the City will qualify for more federal grant money paid directly to the City.
Nevertheless, the official count of 51,755 is far below what most believe is the actual population of Revere. It wasn’t as significant of an undercount as was alleged in 2000, though.
“I have no doubt that our real number is several thousand above our official Census figure,” said the mayor. “I think they were a little low. I would have expected we would be at 53,000 or 54,000.”
He said the possibility of an undercount comes due to the fact that the city probably has a lot of undocumented – or illegal – immigrants.
“I think we were most likely undercounted just given the reality of how people are living here,” he said. “I’m sure there are undocumented folks or relatives of undocumented folks who didn’t really want to answer the door when the government came knocking. We also have large populations of refugees from places where government officials aren’t working in their best interests so they may fear the government.”
One statistic that was also thrown in with the Census release last week was basic housing information.
The city’s housing units increased from 20,181 to 22,100 – an increase of 1,019 units. Strikingly, of those units, 7.4 percent were listed as unoccupied or vacant.
In 2000, only 3.6 percent were vacant.
Last week’s release of information for Massachusetts was only the most basic population and demographic data. Much more detailed data will be available by June, and one of the pieces of information that will be included in there are statistics on poverty.
While the diversity of the city has increased, just about everyone agrees that growth has corresponded with a much higher level of poverty in the city.
Ambrosino said that he expects the city’s poverty statistics to be strikingly different than those of 10 or 20 years ago.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if that isn’t true and it is a challenge,” he said. “We have a school system where there are 70 percent receiving free and reduced lunch and that’s extremely different than 10 years ago. That’s in every school now and not just in schools that are in what is considered to be the poorer areas of the city.”