A well-established body of academic, clinical, and community-level research has demonstrated that conditions within housing units can deeply impact the physical and mental health of individuals in those units, for better or worse. In many areas, the literature is conclusive: just as a dilapidated apartment with a cockroach problem can trigger asthma in a vulnerable child, so too can a well-maintained and properly managed apartment contribute to the positive well-being of its tenant.
The data presented in our new report show that Oakland is a city of disparities, many of which are reproduced in the City’s topography. Oakland—as a whole—is incredibly diverse; the same cannot be said for many parts of the City. There is an incredible amount of overlap between Oakland’s communities of color, the renter populations in the City, the areas with high enrollment in social safety net programs, and neighborhoods with poor health outcomes. More often than not, these neighborhoods also have the highest counts of residential code enforcement complaints, indicating problems with the housing stock. These discrete data pieces, when viewed in concert, begin to paint a high level picture of resident experiences and vulnerabilities in Oakland, neighborhood by neighborhood.
Commissioned by the Alameda County Healthy Homes Alliance with funding support from the Kresge Foundation, this report establishes a set of neighborhood level indicators to help guide community planning efforts to improve the health of residents and the condition of Oakland’s housing stock. The report takes a detailed look at populations typically most vulnerable to poor housing conditions—youth, seniors, renters, and those in poverty—and lays out a clear picture of the diverse data which describe the often overlooked nexus between housing and public health.
Findings in the new report show that in some neighborhoods as many as six out of ten households may have had code enforcement complaints in the past ten years and these concentrations occur in poorer neighborhoods such as Longfellow, Hoover/Foster, Fruitvale, San Antonio and lower Maxwell Park. Over this period there were 32,500 occupied blight complaints received by the City, with over 623 cases involving issues of mold—a condition that can lead to severe health impacts, especially for youth.
We also happened to design a new sort of base map for Oakland planning that shows the approximate neighborhood name for each Census Tract- giving someone data with a tract name is next to useless in most settings, so this map provides a useful tool for conveying data at tract level to residents.
Download report & maps mentioned in this post: