such as complaints in ethnically mixed communities of live chickens running around in neighbors’ backyards.

In fact, ethnically mixed communities are the exception rather than the rule, said Angeline Esperza, past president of the Houston Hispanic Health Coalition. They tend to be predominantly of single ethnicity and to interact minimally with each other. Klineberg agreed, noting that the 2000 Census found Caucasians to be more segregated today than they were 10 years ago—it is less likely that a Caucasian family in Houston today will have an African American or Hispanic neighbor, than was the case in 1990.

Part of the reason is that Houston is the most spread out major city in the United States, with one-third the population density even of infamously sprawling Los Angeles (approximately 2,000 people per square mile in Houston versus 6,000 in Los Angeles). The eight-county area that the U.S. Census defines as the Houston metropolitan area covers a geographical space the size of New Jersey. The result is tremendous spread, in which people tend to live in separate little enclaves, said Klineberg.

Other factors also put constraints on the buildup of Houston’s social capital, said Esparza: unsafe communities, lack of support for education, alienation of some individuals (including the elderly and newly arrived), absent or loose regulations that fail to protect public health in general, and inadequate or no access to basic medical care for some communities.

When an uninsured individual is forced to utilize the emergency room after many failed attempts at other sources, trauma emergency care for all Houston citizens is impaired. As hospital and trauma units go on drive-by status, no one can access these services. We have to focus more attention and social capital on this problem. We must promote more preventive medicine and ensure proper health care for our children in order to secure a healthier future, concluded Esparza.



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