Cuyahoga County Council Districts Contain Wide Disparities

Cleveland (Tony Ganzer / ideastream)
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ideastream has launched a new series, Divided by Design.

As we talk about divisions in our region, it’s good to take a look at the data on where people live, what the conditions of those communities are, and more.  The non-profit Center for Community Solutions this week released fact sheets on Cuyahoga County council districts, which researcher Kate Warren says look at all kinds of things:

WARREN: “...demographics, data on poverty, health, education, sort of all of this data that looks at county council districts in Cuyahoga County.”

GANZER: “You know the Cleveland metro area...there are kind of these stereotypes about which parts of our region are most poor, which parts need the most help. Does that play out in the data that you see, that there are certain areas wracked by poverty more than others?”

WARREN: “I think it’s what a lot of people would expect. Of course we see wide disparities in the county.  I think for anyone who lives in Cuyahoga County, that’s not a surprise, that these disparities exist.  And we see higher poverty within the core of the city of Cleveland.  And again, since we’re looking at county council districts the areas are a little bit different.  But some things to note, is that we do know that we’re seeing a surburbanization of poverty, right.  So some of these districts, like district 2 and district 4, sort of the inner-ring west-side suburbs, we are seeing more people who are in or near poverty. So maybe a family of three, a single mom and two kids, that have an income of around $40,000/year, and trying to make ends meet on that. So we are seeing more of those folks in the inner-ring suburbs that are at risk.”

GANZER: “What do we know in terms of demographics? Is there still a huge disparity between mostly African-American areas of our region, or Latino areas of our region? How does the data shake out?”

WARREN: “I was looking through all of the districts, and when we think of the county—which is 64% white, and 30% black, about 3% Asian, and about 4% other and more than one, and then 5% who are Hispanic or Latino ethnicity—none of the districts seem to represent those demographics individually.  Two of the districts I think come pretty close, that’s district 3 which is on the near west side; and district 11 which is the east side suburbs, sort of the northeast side, has 57% white and 38% black population.  Other than that when you look at the districts it’s either highly concentrated African-American, or highly concentrated white.”

GANZER: “Anything surprise you out of this?”

WARREN: “I don’t find any of this terribly surprising.  I think really what we want to do with the profiles is show people the actual numbers. Because I think we know that there are disparities in this county. But for instance when we think about median income, we have one district—the highest income district—has a median income of $73,000, and the lowest median income district has a median income of $23,000. So there’s a gap of $50,000 there just in the median income, and we’re talking about districts that actually touch—district 6 and district 7, they touch at one point—you know we’re talking about people that live 10, 15 miles down the road from each other, and their lived experiences are vastly different.  So I think once you see those real numbers, those start to paint a picture, and we can start to think about how to tackle the problems that we’re seeing in our community.”

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