Definition: Distressed Urban Areas

Based on the New Market Tax Credit (NMTC) criteria, the term “distressed urban area” means an area consisting of a census tract or tracts, each of which is in a metropolitan statistical area and, using the most recent five year estimates of the American Community Survey, each of which has at least two of the following criteria —

  • an unemployment rate that is at least 150% of the national average.
  • a poverty rate that is at least 20%; or
  • a median family income (MFI) that does not exceed 80 percent of the greater of statewide median family income or the metropolitan area median family income;

Mapping Tool: Distressed Urban Areas

The interactive maps below visualize all census tracts that would be qualified as a distressed urban area based on the above definition, using U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) 5-Year estimates (2013-2017).

Under this set of data, the national average unemployment rate is 6.6%, so the threshold to qualify as a high unemployment area is 9.9% (150% of the national average). Based on IIUSA’s analysis, a total of 14,927 census tracts will qualify as a distressed urban area, representing 20% of the census tracts in the U.S. across 50 states plus the Distress of Columbia. 

It’s important to note that the definition of “distressed urban areas” is still a proposed criteria for TEA qualification. Until legislative reform is passed by the Congress, the areas below are hypothetical TEA qualifications and for your information only (i.e. not legal advice). Nothing on the mapping tool below should be considered as the official TEA designation of any geographic areas under the current law.


This mapping tool:

  • visualizes all the census tracts that could hypothetically qualify as a distressed urban area;
  • provides unemployment data, poverty rate, and median family income statistics for each census tract; and
  • allows you to search any location in the U.S. and check whether the project tract would hypothetically qualify as a distressed urban area;
Launch the mapping tool

Disclaimer: The mapping tool is for education purpose only (i.e. not legal advice). While IIUSA is pleased to provide the TEA mapping tool and help identify potential TEA areas for current or future projects, you should consult with the necessary and qualified EB-5 professionals for an in-depth TEA review and analysis.

Tips for Using the Mapping Tool

Click any area on the map

You can click any area on the map to view whether the census tract of your selection will qualify as a distressed urban area.

Once a census tract is selected, the data panel on the right side of the mapping tool will provide you the all related statistics of the selected census tract,  checking whether each one of the indicators meets the distressed urban area criteria.

Search any U.S. address using the search bar

If you are looking for whether a specific location would qualify as a distressed urban area, enter the address on the search bar.

The mapping tool will take you to the search location and visualize whether your location is within a distressed urban area (highlighted in red).

Click through the census tract(s). All related data indicator will be displayed on the data panel on the right side of the mapping tool.

Questions on the mapping tool? Please email or give us a call at 202-795-9669.