May 13, 2024 - News

San Antonio's child opportunity gap

A map showing Bexar County with neighborhoods in varying colors showing the levels of opportunity.

Data: Brandeis University. Map: Jared Whalen and Alice Feng/Axios

San Antonio has a substantial child opportunity gap, meaning children in some neighborhoods are less likely to graduate high school than peers living just a couple miles away.

Why it matters: Children who grow up in high-opportunity neighborhoods tend to be healthier, have higher incomes in adulthood and even typically live longer, per the Child Opportunity Index 3.0.

The big picture: The index measures social and environmental factors such as school quality, parent employment levels, neighborhood income, park access and air pollution.

  • San Antonio has a child opportunity gap of 78 — significant but not as high as Houston and the Dallas-Fort Worth area — meaning children living just a few miles apart may experience vastly different opportunities.

State of play: Racist housing policies, redlining and segregation have historically kept people of color confined to low-income neighborhoods without the opportunity to move out.

  • Suburban neighborhoods, like Fair Oaks Ranch, Shavano Park and Helotes, have very high opportunity zones compared to parts of the East and West sides close to downtown and a large swath of the South Side.

By the numbers: 27% of Hispanic kids, 18% of Black children and 4% of white kids live in neighborhoods with very low opportunity zones.

  • Inversely, 37% of white kids, 13% of Hispanic children and 12% of Black kids live in areas with very high opportunity.

Zoom in: Southtown received a Child Opportunity Score of 61, lower than Alamo Heights' perfect score of 100, but significantly higher than the inner West Side, just on the other side of I-35, which scored only a 1.

  • This specific swath of the West Side, encompassing Guadalupe, South Laredo and South Brazos streets, is a historically redlined community.

Flashback: Voters approved a $150 million housing bond in 2022 — the largest bond in city history — to help homeowners fix their homes, improve rentals, fund the construction of affordable housing and more.

A universal basic income pilot program funded by nonprofit UpTogether gave 1,000 local families more than $5,100 from December 2020 to January 2023 to spend however they needed.

  • The goal was to help lift families out of poverty.

The bottom line: "The differences in neighborhood opportunity are so profound that it is as if children in the United States are growing up not in one country, but in five different nations," the report says.

Go deeper: Look up your neighborhood.

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