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New tool maps out income and racial inequality across Alexandria

Alexandria’s census tracts, coded by the Equity Index Map. Areas of deeper purple represent places with higher levels of disparity (via City of Alexandria)

The City of Alexandria has a new tool that highlights areas where income levels vary significantly by racial and ethnic groups.

The new Equity Index Map map isn’t a chart of levels of poverty across Alexandria, as some of the wealthiest and poorest communities across Alexandria have low levels of disparity. Instead, it highlights census tracts where race and indicators of economic inequality are closely linked.

The map identifies “disparities between racial/ethnic groups in key socioeconomic outcomes” along with resources to examine the root cause of “entrenched inequities in Alexandria.”

The tool is part of a three-year-long effort by City of Alexandria’s Race and Social Equity (RASE) Office to develop more tools to examine inequalities in the city.

The map tracks things like “homeownership disparities” and “median income disparities” — the levels of inequality in terms of home ownership and income. The map is broken up along census tract lines.

Taylor Run and North Ridge are two areas the map considers to have the most severe disparities. Both census tracts ranked fairly high in poverty disparity. The map does not provide specific information about comparisons on racial/ethic lines, but the map’s racial equity index score indicates a racial element to the disparity between residents of affordable high rises along Duke Street and homeowners in the Taylor Run neighborhood within the same census tract.

The full release from the city is below:

The City of Alexandria will launch an Equity Index Map for use by City agencies, City Council, and community partners. For the last three years, the City’s Race and Social Equity (RASE) Office has been working to develop tools to promote equity throughout our community. This new resource will promote the intentional use of data to eliminate systemic and institutional inequities experienced by residents.

On Thursday, May 4, the RASE Office will launch the Equity Index Map in an interactive event, held from 2 to 4 p.m., at Alexandria Renew Enterprises, 6th Floor Conference Center, 1800 Limerick Street, Alexandria, Virginia. The launch will give participants the opportunity to explore and understand how to use the map to address real-world challenges. Please register for the event by filling out the Equity Index Map Launch Registration Form.

The two key components of the Equity Index Map — the Racial Equity Index and the Social Opportunity Indicators — capture the magnitude of disparities between racial/ethnic groups in key socioeconomic outcomes and help users explore the factors that may drive those disparities. The Equity Index Map provides users with a resource to think about the root causes of the entrenched inequities in Alexandria and how City leaders can address those root causes to achieve equity for all.

A series of opportunities will be available to engage with residents regarding the forthcoming equity resources as the City moves toward a more intentionally equitable future.

Since hiring the City’s first Race and Social Equity Officer, internal and external contributors to the City’s equity commitment have begun engaging in equity training, addressing inequities in their services, and applying an equity lens to their work to determine how to best serve all Alexandrians.

In 2021, City Council adopted the ALL Alexandria Resolution, the commitment by City leaders to race and social equity through increased knowledge, understanding, and dynamic engagement throughout our entire community. View the ALL Alexandria Resolution video.