The life expectancy in different parts of Evanston varies drastically. In the historically Black Fifth Ward, for instance, life expectancy is 6.5 years fewer than the city’s average

“What we increasingly understand is that the health choices that we make are very much shaped by the environment that we live in,” said Kristin Meyer, Community Health Specialist at the City of Evanston, presented the U.S. Census data at a Fifth Ward meeting Thursday, May 26. “That’s really the focus of this community health assessment.”

She showed a map of the city’s life expectancy by area beside a map showing redlining in Evanston. “This redlining map put into place a pattern of disinvestment that we still see today,” said Meyer. 

She also showed median household income data, which showed huge disparities within Evanston. While residents living in one area make about $150,175, residents living in another make about $30,774.

Based on the data pulled from the recent health assessment, the city’s Health Department has named several key priorities, including racial equity and climate resilience, which would involve addressing climate injustices, Meyer said.

She said, in general, Evanstonians have a 82-year life expectancy that exceeds the 78.7 national average. But, she showed that in one part of northern Evanston—a white, affluent area—the life expectancy is nearly 89. 

However, in the area that roughly resembles the Fifth Ward, life expectancy drops to 75.5, a 6.5-year difference. 

Given the city’s history of racism and redlining, the disparity between these two areas is “not surprising to any of us,” said Meyer.  

The data is a part of the city’s most recent community health assessment. In the past, these assessments focussed primarily on health conditions like diabetes, obesity and hypertension, and the behaviors that cause these conditions, said Meyer. 

Meyer said the city is trying to dive deeper into specific neighborhoods, rather than evaluating data on a city-wide level. 

 She encouraged community members to reach out to her with any questions or thoughts on how the city could best address these disparities. 

Adina Keeling

Adina Keeling is a photojournalist and reporter, covering city news, sustainability, schools, and art. She also investigates mental health systems and environmental injustices in Evanston, and puts together...

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  1. Why is anyone surprised by this statistic? Those in higher income areas have better health insurance, access to health care, opportunities not available to those with less income. Those with less income do not have access to treatments and medicines that insurance doesn’t cover. It’s not geography’s fault. It’s the American way!

  2. Correlation does not equal causation. Is this an opinion piece or a news article?
    Really hoping it’s the former because this piece is specious reasoning — a conclusion in search of evidence.

  3. I guess I would want to know what people die from and have this as my ground zero focus and proceed from there to address remedies for change.

    I do know that a major influence on our longevity is based upon what we eat and how we view our value to self and others.