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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.