The Effect of the Housing Crisis on Westside Community Health: A Focus on Historical and Present-Day Epidemics/Pandemics

The Effect of the Housing Crisis on Westside Community Health

A Focus on Historical and Present-Day Epidemics/Pandemics

Sue Nash and Angely Noriega Baron

The Effect of the Housing Crisis on Westside Community Health:
A focus on historical and present-day epidemics/pandemics

San Antonio’s Westside boasts one of the oldest public housing developments built between 1939 and 1942, the Alazán-Apache courts. The Westside, due to redlining, is made up of predominantly Hispanics (93%) who are of lower socioeconomic status (40% poverty rate). Residents in the past were vulnerable to disease due to poor public health infrastructure. For example, Westside neighborhoods lacked clean water and adequate sewage system. These were breeding grounds for disease. Deplorable living conditions made it more likely for residents to contract various diseases.

San Antonio, has experienced its fair share of outbreaks. In 1849 San Antonio witnessed a cholera outbreak which resulted in approximately 600 deaths. Lack of adequate health care contributed to the high death count. In 1866, another cholera outbreak resulted in 292 deaths. This prompted the city to consider its infrastructure and implement ways to remove and drain stagnant water. In 1913, San Antonio’s Fourth Ward Health Auxiliary recognized the impact of poor sanitation and worked with city council to put measures in place for garbage disposal. In 1939 First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt commented on the high tuberculosis rates in San Antonio and the need for public housing which initiated the building of the Alazán-Apache courts. In 1946 San Antonio experienced the polio epidemic and in 1970 a diphtheria outbreak. Many of the cases of the diphtheria outbreak were in the poorer Mexican American neighborhoods. The high infection and death rates were a result of inadequate public health infrastructure.

Poor Mexican American neighborhoods, including San Antonio’s Westside, have experienced several public health crises. Many of these crises are due to poor housing conditions. A past and present burden on Westside communities is the shortage of affordable housing. As it was with past epidemics, today, with talk of demolishing Alazán-Apache courts, it means, many Westside citizens may find themselves displaced from their communities. The stress of displacement often leads to social problems such as: depression, drug abuse and increased risk of teen pregnancies. It also highlights how housing policies contribute to racial segregation and social inequalities. Continued research focuses on how social interventions (eg. housing) may alleviate or exacerbate inequalities in the way people experience epidemics.

Education Inequality in Westside San Antonio during the COVID-19 Pandemic: The Case of Lanier High School

Education Inequality in Westside San Antonio during the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Case of Lanier High School

Claudia Donoso and Kathryn Klokker


Education inequality in a pandemic affects low-income and middle/high-income neighborhoods differently. Drawing on the concept of intersectionality, we compare two high schools in San Antonio-Texas; one located in San Antonio ISD (Westside) and the other located North East ISD. These two schools were chosen by analyzing the data on the Texas Education Agency website 2019-2020 Special Population Reports. We found the percentage of economically disadvantaged students in each public, non-charter high school in Bexar County, and then chose the least economically disadvantaged (Regan High School, 12.16%) and the most economically disadvantaged (Lanier High School, 95.15%). In this study, we discuss the extent to which intersectional inequalities during the Covid-19 pandemic have widened the educational gap. Intersectionality explores how power-relations based on race, class, gender, sexuality, nation, ability, or ethnicity are interrelated, shaping one another. By conducting a comparative analysis, we examine data from the Texas Education Agency website, San Antonio Covid-19 website, news articles, financial data for each school (technology budget, property taxes/values), economic, and demographic data in order to address the issue of inequality furthered by the Covid-19 pandemic. We discuss the categories of class and ethnicity/race. We argue that the pandemic has increased the educational gap affecting the human security of disadvantaged students. We will provide recommendations to mitigate and prevent the educational gap.