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Casar brings equity maps for neighborhoods to be served by Project Connect

Friday, April 24, 2020 by Ryan Thornton

Council Member Greg Casar’s office has created a set of maps showing the need for robust anti-displacement measures if voters approve a proposed mass transit system with Project Connect. Casar brought forward the maps Thursday as part of Council Member Ann Kitchen’s resolution aiming to take a proactive stance against displacement caused by major transportation infrastructure improvements. Using data from the city demographer, Casar’s office mapped income level and racial makeup by ZIP code over the Orange and Blue light rail lines and the Green commuter rail line in the transit system’s current vision. Using raw numbers of low-income and minority residents in each ZIP code, the maps show that both the Orange and Blue light rail lines serve parts of the city that have the most low-income residents and people of color. In particular, the northern segment of the Orange Line north of U.S. Highway 183 and the southeastern leg of the Blue Line between Interstate 35 and the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport appear to serve neighborhoods with among the highest numbers of residents of color, whether Hispanic or African American. By income, both the Orange and Blue lines south of Lady Bird Lake and the Orange Line north of U.S. 183 serve neighborhoods with among the lowest average incomes in the city. “Obviously it’s unacceptable for us to make such a big mass transit investment and not serve low-income people … but then we also have the challenge – that I think is addressed by our action on this item and our continuous conversation – to make sure those communities can stay rooted and stay in place so that people can continue to have access to those lines,” Casar said. Kitchen’s resolution calling for anti-displacement solutions passed on consent.

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