During the summer of 2016, the East Texas Human Needs Network (ETHNN) conducted a Comprehensive Community Needs Assessment (CCNA) in order to understand the nature, extent, and effects of poverty on East Texas Residents. This report is for Smith County only. The CCNA survey contained 82 questions and more than 600 possible responses. The study was conducted in three East Texas Counties: Cherokee, Gregg, and Smith. Surveys of clients and visitors were conducted by trained staff and volunteers at 10 social services agencies.
This report is organized into three areas: Demographic Profile, Economic Wellbeing, and Areas of Study. The areas of study are Education, Employment, Healthcare, Housing, and Transportation. Each of these study areas contains specific poverty indicators and the top needs of those exhibiting that indicator. In addition, the top ten overall needs are included in this report.
The Cherokee County CCNA data accounts for 159 households made up of 331 adults and 152 children, for a total of 483 individuals.
Although a variety of factors are associated with the needs of Cherokee County residents, household income emerged as the factor that has the greatest impact on need, access to services, and quality of life.
Areas of Study:
There are several key indicators that place a person at risk of living in poverty, including: Low educational attainment; unemployment; large family size; single parent family; disability; minority race or ethnic group; female gender; size and remoteness of home community; and no healthcare coverage, among others.
All indicators combined:
Of all those interviewed, two reported facing all five indicators combined: No high school diploma or GED, unemployed, no healthcare coverage, experiencing homelessness, and without a form of transportation.
The top ten overall needs quantified by the Cherokee County CCNA are:
1. Achieving a Living Wage
2. Dental Care
3. Eye/Vision Care
4. Adult Diagnosed with a Disability
5. Prescription Medication
6. Household Utilities
8. Have Past Due Bills
9. General Medical Care
10. Medical Expenses
Finally, CCNA data present the reality of poverty in Cherokee County, how it affects all aspects of life and limits people’s ability to live fruitful and happy lives. The data also present how people living in poverty experience a range of disadvantages which combine to reinforce each other and trap them in poverty, which reduces the length and quality of life often for multiple generations.
With this valuable information now available, ETHNN will connect the efforts of individuals, and the public, private, and non-profit sectors to develop a community action plan. Goals and benchmarks will be measured annually and the full assessment will be conducted every three years; the next one will take place during the summer months of 2019.