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This report presents our findings from a comprehensive needs assessment survey conducted in the Third Ward neighborhood of Houston, Texas. Survey data was collected in three phases between April 2017 and August 2018 in a geographic boundary of SH-288/US 59 to the west, I-45 to the north, Cullen St. to the east and Blodgett St. to the south. Our team had assistance from resident researchers who completed National Institutes of Health training on human subject research before collecting data. Our dataset includes responses from 1,616 heads of households, representing a 49% response rate.
Residents in this neighborhood had a strong sense of community. Most of those surveyed had lived in the Third Ward for more than 15 years and had little desire to move. Our survey responses indicate that residents were overwhelmingly satisfied with living in the Third Ward. Additionally, our results provide substantial evidence that residents were committed to supporting their community and one another. Collective efficacy, which measures individuals’ willingness to help one another in times of need, was notably high across the Third Ward. Individuals were also willing to find ways to support the neighborhood through formal associations. The percentage of residents that participated in a neighborhood association, resident council, or a civic group exceeded national trends. Lastly, very few residents reported that they do their grocery shopping outside of the neighborhood. Thus, our data reveals that Third Ward residents were strongly tied to their community, were supportive of each other, and invested in neighborhood businesses.
Recent neighborhood development had many residents concerned about displacement. Almost a third of residents reported being worried about having to move within the next year. Rising rental rates were cited as the most common reason for potentially needing to move. We found that a majority of residents were “extremely” concerned with a loss of African American culture in the Third Ward. Further, when residents were asked about the neighborhood conditions that concerned them, the construction of new townhomes was an “extreme” concern for approximately 40% of respondents. Our results suggest that new housing developments and the rising cost of living were major factors driving these anxieties. This is not to say, however, that residents were opposed to all new development in the neighborhood. We found that they would like to see new services, stores, and businesses come into the Third Ward, including hospitals, childcare facilities, restaurants, and movie theaters.
Most Third Ward residents reported their overall health as “good” or “very good.” Our survey also suggests that they were undertaking regular exercise. More than half of neighborhood residents engaged in either moderate or high-intensity activity three or more times a week. Additionally, we found that the prevalence of most physical health conditions was not significantly different from national rates. There are notable findings, however, that warrant attention. Only 68.38% responded that they had health insurance coverage. Prevalence rates of diabetes, asthma, neck problems, and hypertension were higher than national trends. Further, approximately one-fifth of residents responded that health conditions were a barrier to working.
Additionally, housing inadequacy and food insecurity were hurdles to resident health and well-being. Housing inadequacy, as defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, was remarkably higher in the Third Ward than national averages. Likewise, more than half of residents were facing food insecurity, which is more than four times higher than national trends. We found that approximately half of the residents receiving assistance from Social Security Disability, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food banks were still food insecure. These findings suggest that new strategies must be developed to meet the housing and nutritional needs of this community.
Moreover, the prevalence of certain mental health diagnoses in Third Ward was higher than national rates. For instance, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia diagnoses exceeded national rates. And females have disproportionately higher rates of bipolar disorder, anxiety, and depression. Additionally, residents with health problems who were unable to work were significantly more likely to say they or other adults in their household were diagnosed with a mental illness or an emotional or behavioral disorder in the past 12 months.
While there are challenges present in the Third Ward, the information presented in this report also paints a picture of resilience. We hope this data can be used to inform strategies, programming, and investments to leverage the strengths of this community and ensure that every Houstonian has access to health care, quality housing, food, and employment opportunities.
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