Austin and Travis County communities are safer and healthier, but according to a report released Thursday major disparities still exist.
City and county leaders released the 2017 Community Advancement Network report on the health and vitality of the area, known as CAN Dashboard. The eighth annual report tracks 17 indicators to determine if the community is achieving its goals. It does this by asking four questions: "Are we safe, just & engaged? Are we meeting our basic needs? Are we healthy? Are we achieving our full potential?"
Joined by Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt, Austin City Mayor Steve Adler and several other community leaders, CAN executive director Raul Alvarez highlighted the report's key findings:
- The crime rate in Travis County declined by 25% from 2011 to 2015.
- The percent of people who live below the federal poverty level decreased to 13%, compared to 19% in 2011.
- More people have health insurance. The percent of people under the age of 65 in Travis County who are uninsured decreased from 21% in 2011 to 16% in 2015.
- The annual unemployment rate in Travis County fell to 3.1% in 2016.
But challenges persist:
- 36% of all Travis County households are cost-burdened, paying more than 30% of total income for housing. Low-income renters are most impacted. 83% of renters who earn less than $35,000 a year are cost-burdened.
- Even though the poverty rate overall has declined, troubling disparities remain, especially for children. More than one-third of all Black and Hispanic children in Travis County live below the federal poverty level. The rate of poverty for these children is five to seven times higher than the rate of poverty for White and Asian children.
- More people have health insurance, but Black residents of Travis County have higher rates of poor mental health, smoking and obesity.
- Even though our community has seen a narrowing gap between students of different races and ethnicities in high school graduation rates, the gaps have not closed in college success.
People who are Black in Travis County are arrested and booked into the Travis County jail at a rate that is highly disproportionate to their representation in the overall adult population.
"The CAN Dashboard explores disparities in the outcomes and experiences of low income families and people of color in our community," said Alvarez. "Until our income, health and educational success are not predicted by the color of our skin or the neighborhood we live in, there is much work yet to be done."
TAP HERE to view the full report from Community Advancement Network.