The Howard County library system’s Miller branch. Photo courtesy of Howard County library system.

Over the years, reports have ranked Howard County as one of wealthiest and healthiest communities in the state, one of the top places to live in the country, and a great place to raise a family.

But a new report by the county’s library system finds racial inequities in Howard County’s education, healthcare, housing, economics, and the legal systems.

Non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic residents were more likely to fare worse than non-Hispanic white residents in Howard County, according to the Howard County Library System’s “Inequity Within: Issues of Inequity Across Communities” report.

And although Asian residents were more likely to fare similarly or even better than non-Hispanic white residents in the education and legal systems, they experienced worse outcomes in housing, health and economic systems, the report found.

The Howard County Library System’s Racial Equity Alliance, comprised of community members and library partners, is working to disseminate the report.

“Alliance members will also take the report back to their groups and communities to determine their next steps,” said library spokesperson Jamie Preto Hepworth.

Geography

The report analyzed the racial makeup of six Howard County subdivisions identified by the US Census Bureau – Elkridge, Ellicott City, West Friendship, Lisbon, Clarksville, and Savage – as well as Columbia.

Lisbon has the highest percentage of white residents, and the lowest percentages of Black, Hispanic, and Asian residents. The jurisdiction has the highest median household income ($173,750), which is nearly $50,000 higher than the median household income for all of Howard County, and nearly $65,000 higher than the jurisdiction with the lowest median household income.

The subdivision with the lowest median household income, Savage ($108,770), is also the jurisdiction with the highest percentage of Black and Hispanic residents.

Education

For years, Howard County’s public school system has been ranked among the best in Maryland, but Black and Hispanic students are twice as likely to have a negative academic experience compared to white students.

Only 35% of Hispanic students were ready for kindergarten, compared to 44% of non-Hispanic Black students, 62% of Asian students, and 69% of non-Hispanic white students.

By the 9th grade, 73.7% of non-Hispanic Black students and 74% of Hispanic students were on track with their grade level. This compared to 91.3% of non-Hispanic white students and 93.5% of Asian students.

Non-Hispanic white students and Asian students demonstrated 80.5% and 85.8% proficiency on high school state assessments, respectively, more than 10 percentage points higher than the average for all high school students (70.3%). Comparatively, 47.4% of non-Hispanic Black students and 46.6% of Hispanic students were proficient.

Rates of chronic absenteeism for non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic students (20.3% and 23.5%, respectively) were more than double the rates for non-Hispanic white (10.5%) and Asian students (8.2%).

Non-Hispanic Black students were suspended or expelled at a rate of 5.6% — higher than their peers who are Hispanic (2.2%), non-Hispanic white (1.1%) or Asian (0.6%).

The drop-out rate was the highest for Hispanic students (15.8%), compared to non-Hispanic white (3%), Asian (3%) and non-Hispanic Black students (6.1%).

More than 95% of Asian and non-Hispanic white students graduated, compared to 79.3% of Hispanic students and 88.7% of non-Hispanic Black students.

Housing 

Housing affordability and home loan denials prevents many people of color from owning homes in Howard County, making them more likely to rent.

Black applicants were nearly three times as likely — and Hispanic and Asian applicants were more than twice as likely — to be denied a home loan compared to white applicants, the report shows.

Economic 

The poverty rate was 10.7% for non-Hispanic Black residents, more than double the countywide rate of 5.1%. This compared to 5.6% for Hispanic residents, 5.2% for Asian residents, 4.8% for Native American residents, and 2.9% for non-Hispanic white residents.

Legal

Black residents are 2.5 times more likely to be stopped by police during a traffic stop compared to white residents.

And 6.7% of white students reported having someone in their household who has been incarcerated compared to 21.1% of Black students and 25.2% of Hispanic students.

Health 

Howard County has the second highest life expectancy at birth in the state, but the divide in life expectancy between Black and white Howard County residents comes second to Baltimore City, which is ranked lowest throughout the state.

Among pregnancies, 14.5% of Hispanic families and 9.8% of non-Hispanic Black families received late prenatal care or none at all, while 3.6% of Asian families and 2.7% of non-Hispanic white families received late or no prenatal care.

When it came to giving birth, 40.4% of non-Hispanic Black families required a C-section, compared to 31.7% of Asian families, 30.2% of Hispanic families, and 29.5% of non-Hispanic white families.

The rate of low birth weight was 9.5% for Asian children and 8.5% for non-Hispanic Black children. Comparatively, 5.5% of non-Hispanic white children and 5.7% of Hispanic children had a low birth weight.

Compared to non-Hispanic white residents, non-Hispanic Black residents are two times as likely to be diagnosed with diabetes and four times as likely to visit an emergency room due to diabetes complications.

For Asian and non-Hispanic Black residents, 4.8% were uninsured. And 10.4% of residents who identified as an “other” race were uninsured. This compared to 2.9% of non-Hispanic white and 2.1% of Native American residents.

Among non-Hispanic Black residents, 9% identified the emergency room as their usual health care provider – three times more than non-Hispanic white residents.

“As an educational institution, Howard County Library System offers a wealth of resources for community members to educate themselves so they can be informed,” Hepworth said.

People can enroll in upcoming racial equity trainings (offered at no cost), attend related classes and events, visit the Brave Stories exhibit at the East Columbia Branch, research racial equity resources, and borrow items from our equity resource collection.”

The sources used to gather information for the library system’s report were provided by US Census Bureau-American Community Survey, PolicyMap, Maryland Vital Statistics, Maryland Governors Office of Crime Prevention, Youth, and Victim Services’ Race-Based Traffic Stop Data Dashboard, Maryland Public Schools Report Card, and Howard County Public School System’s Strategic Call to Action.

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Latrice Hill

Latrice Hill is a Baltimore native and Morgan State University graduate who loves all the great things this city has to offer. She worked with WMAR 2-News as an Assignment Desk Editor before she joined...

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1 Comment

  1. Income strata produce inequalities. But the outcomes by race are not shown by this or any other local report to be the result of unequal access to public resources or to unequal treatment of minority residents by county gvt , realtors, employers or businesses. The habits and roads to success are there for those willing to devote their lives to proven tools. The library has no business advocating for anything. I am a devoted user of the library and have been for 40 yrs. I am dismayed it’s been hijacked by the poorly designated and self enriching so called ‘anti racist’ special interests.

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