Texas has been more urban than rural since the 1950s, and though the state’s wide open space has a lot to do with its mystique, rural Texas is often overlooked when it comes to resources.
Providing education is a significant issue in rural areas: schools face funding shortages, and a surprising number of students are homeless.
Even as the Texas economy flourishes overall, rural residents struggle to make a living from the land, Collins says.
“A lot of these rural towns, especially the ones close to Abilene and farther north into the panhandle, are increasingly reliant on agriculture, which is a really risky endeavor,” Collins says. “The median age of farmers is…something like 60-61 years old.”
Like other parts of Texas, rural areas have been buffeted by natural disasters, Collins says, and it’s hard for them to snap back.
“Hurricane Harvey was probably the worst thing to happen to rural Texas this year,” Collins says. “These are communities that are already really struggling…and they’re going to have a really hard time recovering.”
Written by Shelly Brisbin.