The one square mile Iron Triangle in Richmond is one of the toughest inner-city neighborhoods in the country. Comprised of a largely Latino and Black population—this is a densely populated neighborhood blighted by gun violence and the environmental effects of bordering the toxic Chevron oil Refinery. With one third of families living below the poverty line, when children are old enough to attend school, the public schools that await them are among the poorest performing, lowest ranked in the state. Despite recent outreach efforts to curb gun violence, locals live with a constant threat of random gang shootings, and under an incessant drone of ambulances headed toward the local Kaiser hospital. The feeling of being “unsafe” looms large over everyone, including our staff—who are unable to conduct door-to-door surveys in the neighborhood, for fear of what they may encounter.
Striking statistics about the Iron Triangle:
Population: 13,000 residents comprised of 61% Latino and 24% Black ethnic makeup, and a shrinking a 7% Asian and 6% white population.
Deep Poverty: 1/3rd of households live below the poverty line; with a median household income of $31,000, 90% of local children live near poverty* compared to a national average of 35%.
Gun Violence: Only a few years ago, Iron Triangle was ranked the 7th most violent neighborhood in the country.
High Unemployment Rate: 46% of residents are unemployed vs. a national average of 4.7%, and CA state average of 5.3%.
Poorest-Performing Schools: Local schools are in the lowest 10% in California, with only 3% of 5th graders meeting state standards in Math, and a mere 7% meeting basic English proficiency standards. This compares with a county average of 65% of 5th graders meeting standards .
Adults with Limited Education: Over 33% of the local adult population hasn’t completed high school, compared with a low 1% in nearby city of Albany. Less than 5% of local parents have college degrees in the Iron Triangle, while in Albany adults with college degrees topple 85%.
Linguistic Isolation: 23% of the adult population has a limited grasp of English compared with an 8% national average. An average of 60% of kids in Iron Triangle schools speak English as a second language.
Environmental Degradation: Given its close proximity to Chevron, BNSF railroad and Richmond Parkway, the Iron Triangle produces some of the most toxic air, and is consistently rated in the top 20% of communities burdened by environmental issues, leading to asthma, mental health issues, or diabetes.
Negative Health effects: With 51% of children in Richmond falling into overweight or obese categories, Richmond was ranked #5 of all California cities for obesity. In Iron Triangle schools, over 50% of 5th grade students do not meet basic physical fitness standards.
Food Insecurity: With only one basic grocery store located in the Iron Triangle, the area receives poor ratings for its limited access to nutritious foods, contributing to substandard health conditions. Often parents cannot obtain quality food products, as 27% of residents do not have access to a car. Gang violence prevents some from traveling to grocery stores, instead relying on low-quality convenience market and fast food.
*Over 90% of children receiving free or reduced lunches in local elementary schools.