A new report released Tuesday found widening inequities in income, wealth, health and opportunity in Hillsborough County.
The annual Health Equity Report, developed by the Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County and the Office of Health Equity, is meant to spotlight the health level of Hillsborough County and its residents. One’s health is deeply intertwined with their environment, as the report points out.
Everything from access to healthy food, transportation, education and healthcare all play a part in an individual’s well-being. The final results of the annual report will eventually influence the Office of Health Equity’s suggestions and improvement strategies.
“We have not yet achieved health equity in Hillsborough County,” reads the report. “A person’s opportunity to live a healthy life can vary based on their race, ethnicity, gender, income, age and other factors.”
According to the report, Hillsborough County's Black and Hispanic communities see the largest disparities in almost every category, including:
Over 20% of Black and Hispanic adults in Hillsborough are living in poverty, while the percentage for white adults is 10%.
Over 40% of Black and Hispanic adults in Hillsborough County are food insecure; the percentage for whites is about 25%.
About 61% of adults with household income under $25,000 report food insecurity, compared to only 17% of adults with a household income of $50,000 or over. About half of adults with household income $25,000 - $49,000 report food insecurity.
One in five parents with household income less than $25,000 report feeling unsafe in their neighborhoods compared to less than one in 10 parents with a household income of $50,000 or over.
Black and Hispanic 4th graders scored, on average, score lower than white 4th graders on reading tests in 2019.
Students who are eligible for reduced lunch (from households facing economic hardship) also scored lower than those who are ineligible.
46% of suspensions were of Black students, yet only 21% of students were Black.
Older adults, people of color, and people walking in low-income communities are disproportionately represented in fatal crashes involving pedestrians. This is likely because low-income communities often lack sidewalks, marked crosswalks and street design to support safer, slower speeds for traffic calming.
"This report demonstrates where unfair, unjust and avoidable differences in health exist in our community, and highlights work that DOH-Hillsborough is doing to address some of these issues," said Dr. Leslene Gordon, Community Health director, in a statement.
To undertake the staggering food insecurity statistics, the Office of Equity is expanding its use of a food insecurity screening and referral system in health care settings. Additionally, health care access is addressed in partnership with federally-qualified health centers that offer low or no-cost primary care and other services, according to the report.
In conclusion, the report asks readers to become involved in initiatives to change policies, systems and environments that do not support “good health.”
You can read the whole report here.
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