United Way of Tarrant County today released the results of its Community Assessment, which identified the top social issues affecting the lives of Tarrant County residents: housing and homelessness; health, mental health, and wellness; transportation; education, early childhood, and youth; and basic needs, emergency assistance, and financial stability.
The Community Assessment is the culmination of a two-year effort to reexamine the organization’s role in Tarrant County and to redefine its responsibility as the steward of investments by donors – individuals, foundations, organizations, and businesses.
“United Way of Tarrant County is pleased to share the 2018-2019 Community Assessment, which provides a clear directive of where funding is truly needed and how our community expects us to allocate resources,” said T.D. Smyers, president, and chief executive officer of United Way of Tarrant County. “When the Strategic Plan was rolled out, the goal was to address the most pressing issues facing Tarrant County, and through the research reported from the Community Assessment, we can make informed decisions on where resources are needed.”
While many of these issues are not new, the data emphasizes the importance of addressing them through Systems Change, which was introduced in the United Way Strategic Plan in March 2018. Systems Change is the allocation of resources to not just manage social issues, but to solve them for entire populations.
In addition, the Community Assessment offers evidence of how the issues are entangled and add to the complexity of challenges for those trying to improve their quality of life. For example:
- Lack of affordable housing leads many to live paycheck to paycheck, jeopardizing financial stability.
- Employment opportunities to increase financial stability may not be reachable because of a lack of access to public transportation.
- The absence of affordable childcare affects the financial stability of families.
The Community Assessment also showed a need for better communication, collaboration and coordination among social service organizations, government entities, and the private sector.
“United Way of Tarrant County believes its role is to convene resources and facilitate cooperation,” Smyers said. “We take this seriously and are committed to opening avenues of collaboration and communication.”
Other key findings include:
- More than one in five (23 percent) Tarrant County families earn less than $35,000, making housing unaffordable for more than 100,000 families.
- The average monthly cost of childcare for one child in Tarrant County ranges from about $675 to $850.
- Tarrant County ranks the worst in the state of Texas in a ratio of residents to primary care providers, dentists and mental health providers among counties with one million or more people.
- Lack of transportation is one of the most significant barriers to accessing healthcare.
The 2018-2019 Community Assessment was executed by the University of North Texas Health Science Center in partnership with United Way of Tarrant County and made possible by a grant from the Sid Richardson Foundation. Data collected and analyzed for the Community Assessment is available to the public. The 2018-2019 Community Assessment, as well as all technical data, can be found at www.unitedwaytarrant.org/communityassessment.