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The Journal Gazette

  • Allen County Courthouse

Wednesday, September 12, 2018 10:00 am

Study reveals at-risk residents

SHERRY SLATER | The Journal Gazette


Study results released today could help local nonprofits make spending decisions.

The St. Joseph Community Health Foundation commissioned the Community Research Institute at Purdue University Fort Wayne to compile data that look at which Allen County areas are home to the most at-risk residents.

Certain characteristics indicate which populations are vulnerable, the authors said. People who are most at risk:

* Have incomes below the federal poverty level

* Are unemployed

* Have limited education

* Spend more than one-third of their income on housing

* Live in a household headed by a single mother

* Don't have health insurance

* Aren't fluent English speakers

* Were born in a country outside the United States

* Live in a food desert without easy access to fresh produce

The Community Research Institute gathered data from the U.S. Census Bureau's 2016 American Community Survey and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Access Research Atlas to identify the ZIP Code Tabulation Areas where Allen County residents struggle the most in each of the listed areas.

Rachel Blakeman, the institute's director, described the results in a news release that was embargoed until the 10 a.m. announcement at the foundation's downtown headquarters.

"The study clearly shows that no two ZIP Codes in Allen County are alike," Blakeman said in a statement. "Each has very different characteristics. The study reveals a more precise picture of each ZIP Code area, as well as where the most vulnerable are located and approximately how many individuals are in each geographic area."

Among the findings included in the 400+ page report were:

* The lowest median household income was in 46803, where the amount was $21,344.

* More than 20 percent of the adults living in five ZIP Codes (46803, 46806, 46743, 46802 and 46741) do not have a high school diploma or equivalent.

* About 36 percent of Allen County residents who live in rental units spend more than 35 percent of their income on housing.

* Allen County's minority populations are more likely to be living without health insurance than the white population. The highest percentage without health insurance – 27.5 percent – is Hispanics. The percentage of whites without health insurance is 10 percent.

* Almost 110,000 people – or almost one-third of the community – live in areas designated as food deserts.

St. Joseph Community Health Foundation is making the study results available to the public. Meg Distler, the foundation's executive director, considers the study an important resource.

"This information will first, influence our decisions, helping us to understand where the poorest and most vulnerable are located and the diverse challenges they face," she said in a statement. "Second, we hope it assists our community partners to more effectively reach and serve those most in need."

For more on this story, see Thursday's print edition of The Journal Gazette or return to after 1 a.m. Thursday.