News Archive – 2013

CPPP Releases New Data Tool Measuring Local Economic Mobility

AUSTIN, TEXAS—The Texas Regional Opportunity Index (TROI), a new interactive data tool released today by the Center for Public Policy Priorities, offers the first and only one-stop-shop for data measuring the economic health of all Texas counties and regions. Pulling together 65 indicators on economic development, health, nutrition, education, and savings, the TROI offers the most comprehensive look at Texans’ ability to build financial security, avoid or lift themselves out of poverty, get a quality education, and create a prosperous future for their families.

The TROI is easy to use and helps communities and policymakers understand their strengths and challenges while also setting goals and benchmarks against other Texas regions.

“We know that in order to succeed, Texas families need well-paying jobs with benefits, access to basic needs, and the opportunity to save and build financial assets,” said Don Baylor, senior economic opportunity policy analyst at the Center for Public Policy Priorities.  “The Texas Regional Opportunity Index helps communities and policymakers understand how their residents are faring and what they can do to improve opportunity for families.”

Inspired by the national Opportunity Index  and CFED Asset and Opportunity Scorecard, the TROI consolidates data from 25 sources and provides an easy, accessible way to compare Texas counties and regions. The tool also includes 16 indicators never before released at the county or regional level, including credit card debt, payday and auto title lending density, long-term unemployment rates, and student debt burden.

“To ensure prosperity for all Texans, communities know they need to invest in public and postsecondary education and financial aid, access to health insurance and nutrition programs, and financial literacy and asset building. This tool offers a dashboard to local governments and organizations to guide and enhance community approaches to achieve local impact, while also providing a roadmap for public policy solutions to increase economic opportunity and mobility across Texas,” Baylor said.

The TROI is now available online after being formally released this morning in Houston at an event generously sponsored by CHASE.

“CHASE is proud to support the launch of the Texas Regional Opportunity Index,” said Carolyn Watson, vice president for global philanthropy at the JPMorgan Chase Foundation. “This new tool equips decision makers with the data they need to effectively respond and plan in an increasingly measured world.”

Visit to access the tool.

CAN to host policy forum on sustainable growth in Austin region on November 8, 2013

November 8, 2013
CAN Policy Forum Today’s Choices, Tomorrow’s Future: Growing into the region we want to be 

The Austin region will continue to grow, but will our growth be sustainable? Will opportunity be shared, or will economic segregation deepen, providing opportunity to some, while leaving others behind? What solutions will help us grow into the region we want to be?

Join community members and leaders for an important discussion on the future of our community.

Elizabeth Kneebone is a fellow at the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution and co-author of Confronting Suburban Poverty in America (Brookings Press, 2013). Her work primarily focuses on urban and suburban poverty, metropolitan demographics, and tax policies that support low-income communities.  

Jon Hockenyos is President of TXP, Inc, an economic and public policy consulting firm. TXP, Inc. has assisted private business, public sector and non-profit organizations with economic impact analysis, policy research and economic forecasting.

CAN Policy Forum
Today’s Choices, Tomorrow’s Future: Growing into the region we want to be

November 8, 2013
8:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
University of Texas Commons Learning Center at the J.J. Pickle Research Campus
10100 Burnet Road

Free onsite parking. The UT Commons Learning Center is also easily accessible by public transportation via Capital Metro. Find route information at

$20 non-refundable fee (includes breakfast, lunch and event fee)

Registration is available here.

MacArthur Foundation’s Network on Building Resilient Regions releases working paper on social inclusion and sustained prosperity

Buddy, Can You Spare Some Time? Social Inclusion and Sustained Prosperity in America’s Metropolitan Regions

The MacArthur Foundation’s Network on Building Resilient Regions recently released a working paper authored by Chris Brenner and Manuel Pastor correlating social equity of regions to economic growth, and showing that regions with greater social equity have longer lasting growth spells. The correlation between equity and the pace of growth is well established, however, this is the first US study to show that greater income equality and social inclusion can also mean longer growth spells in U.S. regions. The study examines the economies of the 184 largest metropolitan regions from 1990 to 2011.

Access full paper here.

Green Doors and the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity Release Report on the Geographic Footprint of Opportunity

Blacks & Latinos more than Twice as Likely as Anglos to live in low opportunity, high poverty Austin neighborhoods, according to the just released “The Geography of Opportunity in Austin and How It Is Changing” report

Green Doors and the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity have released The Geography of Opportunity in Austin and How It Is Changing, an in-depth analysis of the geographic footprint of opportunity, or the lack thereof, in our community in terms of education, housing, economics, health, and environment.

Despite the robust socio-economic growth of the greater Austin area, all boats are not rising.  The Austin metro area is becoming more and more a tale of two cities – the Haves and Haves Not A Lot at All.  Key findings from the analysis include:

  • Strong Negative Correlation between Race & Opportunity.  African Americans and Latinos are geographically isolated from higher opportunity neighborhoods in the Austin area.  59% and 62% of African Americans and Latinos, respectively, live in low opportunity neighborhoods in the Austin area, compared to only 26% of Anglos.  In short, African Americans and Latinos are more than twice as likely as Anglos to live in low opportunity neighborhoods.
  • Latinos Segregated from Opportunity.  Latinos, the largest minority population in the region (31% of the population), are highly concentrated in neighborhoods of low opportunity (62% of Latino households vs.26% of white households).  This is especially acute for Latino children throughout the region and educational opportunity.  63% of Latino children attend schools in low educational opportunity neighborhoods vs. 20% of white children.
  • Affordable Housing Highly Concentrated in Low Opportunity Neighborhoods.  The vast majority (79%) of subsidized affordable housing is located in low opportunity neighborhoods.  And only 8% of subsidized affordable housing is located in high opportunity neighborhoods.

The full report provides a detailed description of the opportunity mapping methodology and data sources, as well as additional opportunity analysis.  It also contains opportunity maps demonstrate visually the stark divide in opportunities for different groups of people in our community.

Justice Center issues report on the use of criminal history records in Texas

The Law School’s William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law and the UT Institute for Urban Policy Research and Analysis have released a report, “Criminal Records in the Digital Age: A Review of Current Practices in Texas and Recommendations for Reform,” addressing the increasing use of criminal histories in Texas for purposes unrelated to criminal justice.

More than 4.7 million adults in Texas possess a criminal record, often for minor offenses, and that number is steadily increasing with more than one million new arrests in Texas annually. The report highlights how, with the emergence of electronic databases, more than forty million criminal background checks are performed across the U.S. each year for non–criminal justice purposes. Widespread access to criminal records through government repositories and commercial vendors has led to an increased reliance on criminal background checks that negatively impacts the affected person’s access to housing, employment, government benefits, and educational opportunity—regardless of the nature of the offense or when it occurred.

The report discusses how unintended consequences of the original criminal record can prevent affected individuals from successfully reintegrating into their communities, leaving them, their families, and the wider community at greater risk. Surveying recent efforts in other states, the report offers recommendations for reform and encourages Texas to undertake a comprehensive review of how criminal records are accessed, disseminated, and utilized around the state.

The report was authored by Helen Gaebler, senior research attorney at the Justice Center. The report was funded, in part, by a grant from the Institute for Urban Policy Research and Analysis.

Access full report here.

The University of Texas at Austin’s Division of Diversity and Community Engagements Hosts Panel Presentation on the Future of Balck LIfe in Austin

The Division of Diversity and Community Engagement recently hosted a panel presentation on the Future of Black Life in Austin.  Part of the 27th Annual Heman Sweatt Symposium, the presentation drew more than 100 community leaders, students, researchers and Travis County residents concerned about the dwindling population of African Americans in Austin.  A recap and audio recording are available at