The most “comprehensive report of neighborhood health ever produced” focusing on the borough of Brooklyn was released last week by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) in what the agency is calling a “major step towards participatory public health.”
The Brooklyn Community Health Profiles, a look at the borough’s 18 community districts and conditions like the housing quality, air pollution and accessibility of healthy food in each, is aimed at highlighting inequity across neighborhoods and encouraging community engagement, according to DOHMH.
“The Health Department’s Community Health Profiles represent the most comprehensive picture of neighborhood health that we have ever produced, including not only traditional measures of health, but indicators that offer a larger health portrait of a neighborhood such as housing and air quality, supermarket space, and school absenteeism,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett. “Our goal is to put this information into the hands of elected officials, providers, institutions, community-based organizations and, most importantly, neighborhood residents themselves so we can truly work together to reduce health disparities across all five boroughs.”
The profiles, according to DOHMH, also provide comparative information on major health issues including HIV, smoking and health insurance, and serve as a resource for improving health community by community.
Scoring near the top the findings in terms of the healthfulness of neighborhood residents, as outlined by DOHMH, Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights for instance, house one in 10 unemployed adults (aged 16 and older) and have nearly half of all residents spending more than 30 percent of their monthly gross income on rent (with 16 percent of residents reportedly living below the Federal Poverty Level). Additionally, the district clocked in with an average life expectancy of 81.5 years and had 81 percent of residents reporting their own health as “excellent,” “very good” or “good.” In terms of education, over two-fifths of Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights adults have college degrees; however, one in five adults has not completed high school.
In Bensonhurst, 18 percent of residents live below the Federal Poverty Line; however, the number of unemployed adults and the monthly gross income spent on rent is approximately the same as in Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights (one in 10 unemployed adults with half of all residents spending more than 30 percent of their month gross income on rent). Life expectancy in the district is just a smidge higher than in Bay Ridge and Dyker, totaling in at 82.5 years, and 70 percent of residents reported their own health as “excellent,” “very good” or “good.”
Also scoring near the top in the DOHMH profiles were Park Slope, Red Hook and Carroll Gardens, where the poverty rate is half the New York City average.
On the other hand, in neighborhoods like Brownsville, where health issues are more acute, over one-quarter of adults have not completed high school and one in six adults in the district, aged 16 and older, is unemployed. Additionally, over half of all residents in Brownsville spend more than 30 percent of their monthly gross income on rent and nearly 40 percent of residents live below the Federal Poverty Level. Furthermore, Brownsville’s incarceration rate is the second highest in the city, three and a half times the Brooklyn and citywide rates.
In Starrett City and East New York, one third of residents live below the Federal Poverty Level; the diabetes rate in those areas is 18 percent, the highest in the city, compared to Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights, where the rate of diabetes was six percent, Park Slope, Red Hook and Carroll Gardens, where the rate of diabetes was seven percent, and Bensonhurst, where the rate of diabetes was nine percent. In Brownsville, the rate of diabetes was 15 percent.
Childhood asthma rates also show huge disparities. In Brownsville, children between five and 14 are hospitalized for asthma at approximately twice the rate of the borough of Brooklyn as a whole (61 per 10,000 children as compared to 32 per 10,000 children. In East New York and Starrett City, 50 out of every 10,000 children between five and 14 are hospitalized for asthma, a number which drops to nine in Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights; seven in Bensonhurst; and 20 in Park Slope, Carroll Gardens and Red Hook.
Overall, when looking at the profiles, many neighborhoods appear in good health, while others show significant health imbalances that persist across several neighborhoods.
“Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to understanding the various health challenges facing our neighborhoods,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. “The updated Community Health Profiles will empower Brooklynites, from civic leaders to everyday residents, with a broad understanding of the measures that are advancing or inhibiting their ability to raise healthy children and families.”