May 30, 2017
The 2017 CAN Dashboard provides an overview of the social health and well-being of Austin/Travis County and tracks our community’s progress in achieving four community goals:
- we are safe, just & engaged
- our basic needs are met
- we are healthy
- we achieve our full potential.
Are we achieving these goals? I am taking a closer look at each goal area and what the data have to say. Today we take a closer look at basic needs beginning with trends relating to the rate of poverty in Austin/Travis County. The poverty rate for all races and ethnicities has declined since the end of the Great Recession, however, disparities remain. About one-fourth of all Hispanic and Black residents of Travis County live below the federal poverty threshold, which is about $24,000 for a family with two adults and two children and $19,000 for a family with one adult and two children. Less than one-tenth of White residents live below the poverty level.
As the graph below shows, the disparity for children is even greater. More than one-third of all Travis County children who are Hispanic or Black live in poverty. This is five to seven times higher than the poverty rates for Asian and White children. High rates of child poverty indicate this is an issue that requires greater support for families.
Finding an affordable place to live is a challenge for many people. Thirty-six percent of households in Travis County are housing cost-burdened, and many have moved further away from Austin to find housing they can afford. Almost three-fourths of Travis County workers drive alone to work. When families live far from where they work, they face longer commute times, higher transportation costs, find it more difficult to be involved with their children’s school or other community activities, and may not have ready access to healthy food, healthcare and other important services.
Homelessness and food security are also tracked in this area of the Dashboard. 16% of Travis County residents have limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods, and more than 2,000 people were counted in our community’s annual point-in-time count which identifies people who, on a given day, are homeless. People who are African-American are over-represented in the local homeless population. Although African-Americans make up only 8% of the total Travis County population, 42% of the homeless population identify as Black.
Please visit the 2017 CAN Dashboard website to learn more about these and other indicators, including what local programs and collaborations are working to move the indicators in the right direction.