A census tract next to Centennial Park in Santa Ana has the least access to nutrition and basic medical care in the entire city.
Residents living around Westminster’s civic center experience some of the least access to information and communication services — based on rates of cellular and broadband subscriptions — in all of Orange County.
A census tract across the street from Disneyland in Anaheim has one of the region’s lowest average life expectancies, at 75 years old.
Santa Ana contains areas with the highest prevalence of asthma among adults, while also logging the most cases of Coronavirus in the county — the virus hits the human body especially hard on its respiratory fronts.
All of this information is according to a new public health inequity map, officially unveiled by community health nonprofit Advance OC and County of Orange officials at a roll-out ceremony on Wednesday.
Orange County Supervisors Andrew Do and Doug Chaffee commissioned the development of the map, after they said they Advance OC approached them with the idea, with the support of county Health Officer Dr. Clayton Chau.
The inequity assessment tool may be the first of its kind to map out quality of life disparities across the county in one centralized dataset, getting as specific as zip codes and census tracts where county residents are most in need for things like child care centers and supermarkets.
“No one else in the country has taken the approach that we’ve taken here,” said Katie Kalvoda, a leader at Advance OC, on Wednesday.
She and others on Wednesday pushed the map as a call to action — that local officials now have the tools to pinpoint specific issues and induce real systemic changes in their communities:
“If you are a city council member, you can go in and basically identify areas of greatest need and opportunity for growth.”
County officials and Advance OC leaders on Wednesday said the tool will have to be fine-tuned, and will update annually.
It comes after more than a year of the Coronavirus pandemic, which both exposed the fragile nature of county officials’ public health infrastructure while also revealing large health and quality of life gaps between wealthier communities and working class communities of color.
County officials during the pandemic also came under criticism for leaving poorer communities behind in vaccinating residents for Coronavirus.
Now the map may give the public a clearer picture of just how large the county’s quality of life gaps are, comparing specific needs between different cities — and even different areas of the same city.
For example, on a scale of 1-100 under one iteration of the tool, the 6059063807 census tract in Costa Mesa scores lowest in the entire county for “personal safety” — which the map measures by violent crime and property crime rates, as well as motor vehicle accident rates — at 15.2.
By comparison, the 6059032002 census tract in Mission Viejo scores the highest for personal safety in the entire county, at 95.5.
Supervisor Do, whose district represents large Vietnamese and Latino communities across Westminster, Garden Grove and Santa Ana, called the development of the map “a no-brainer.”
As a supervisor, he said, “if (I) achieve nothing else in the next three-and-a-half years, this will be the crowning achievement.”
The map also comes as community organizations, like Latino Health Access, have been fighting to get more state and local funding to help address the various gaps the inequity map illustrates.
Ronald Coleman, managing director of policy for the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, said they’ve been fighting to get more state money for organizations like Latino Health Access.
“A lot of the community based organizations that we worked with really have been overloaded by the pandemic, particularly because of the need,” Coleman said in an interview earlier this month.
Like other health advocates, Coleman said the pandemic made the health disparities much more apparent:
“For decades we have had significant health disparities in our communities of color. And even before coronavirus, we knew these disparities existed.”Ron Coleman, managing director of police for the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network
He added: “So we haven’t adequately funded either public health departments or community based organizations to meet the community needs right before our eyes.”
Brandon Pho is a Voice of OC staff writer and corps member at Report for America, a GroundTruth initiative. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @photherecord.