Inequities persist for San Antonio’s Black community, local report finds

Community-led study provides comprehensive look at disparities affecting Black residents

(Julie Moreno, KSAT)

SAN ANTONIO – A new comprehensive report led by the San Antonio Area Foundation (SAAF) and the San Antonio Area African American Community Fund (SAAAACF) found that many disparities continue to affect the city’s Black community.

The report, titled “State of the African American community in San Antonio and Bexar County,” came about as the groups sought a deeper analysis to show the challenges that Black residents face in Bexar County. Black residents make up about 7% of the overall population.

In many ways, the first-of-its-kind report found the disparities that exist in income, home ownership and criminal justice follow national trends. SAAAACF Chairman Bobby Blount said the findings should be a call to action.

“This report does more than validate what most of us know: African Americans face many challenges in our community,” Blount said. “It provides a foundation for everyone to understand, discuss and take action to improve the livelihood of San Antonians.”

Here are some of the key takeaways:

Home ownership

Black residents had the lowest rate of home ownership in Bexar County. (KSAT)

The report found that the Black residents have the lowest rate of home ownership in Bexar County.

The percentage of Black residents who own their home stands at 41.2%, the lowest among other races and ethnicity groups. White home ownership is at 66.1%.

It’s also harder for Black residents to get a mortgage for their homes. The data shows that 37% of Black applicants have seen their mortgage loan applications denied. White applicants saw their applications rejected only 21.4% of the time.

Income

Black and Latino per capita income is lower than white per capita income, according to the study. (KSAT)

The average income for Black and Latino workers in Bexar County is similar to the county’s overall average but much less than their white counterparts.

“At about $43,000, white per capita income is about one and a half times higher than the county per capita income of $28,000,” according to the report.

Median household income shows a similar disparity. While Black and Latino households have a median income just under $50,000, white household income stands at $73,108.

Another financial statistic cited in the report: “An estimated 19% of Black- or African American- headed households have a household income of $100,000 or greater, as compared to 25% of county households overall and 35% of white households.”

Business

Only 1.4% of total employer firms in San Antonio are Black-owned. (KSAT)

Another stark contrast is apparent in business ownership. Black-owned businesses only make up 1.4% of employer firms — businesses with multiple employees — in the San Antonio-New Braunfels metro area. White-owned businesses make up 61% of the employer firms in the metropolitan area.

The report does cite a lack of local quantitative data on this topic, but notes that local interviews and focus groups conducted for the report cited a number of other barriers, including poor access to credit and capital, as a barrier to business expansion.

Criminal Justice

Black and Latino people are less likely to be released under the city's cite and release program, according to the study. (KSAT)

Though Black residents make up 7% of the population, they make up more than 10% of the traffic stops and roughly 24% of 2019 arrests in San Antonio, the report found.

When it comes to the local cite and release program — which allows officers to issue citations in lieu of an arrest on certain Class A or Class B misdemeanor charges — Black and Latino people are less likely to be released than white people, the report found.

Bail amounts in Bexar County also show a disparity.

“Average bail varies dramatically by defendant race/ethnicity, with the average for Black or African Americans being 1.4 times the average for all groups,” according to the report.

That, in turn, can affect overrepresentation in the Bexar County Jail population.

“In a one-day snapshot of the Bexar County jail population in 2020, Black or African Americans were overrepresented compared to county population by a factor of 3.6 among inmates held for misdemeanor offenses and by a factor of 2.2 among inmates held for felony offenses,” according to the report.

Moving forward

The foundations who led the effort to publish this report say they have already created several initiatives in an effort to address these disparities. They include:

  • A SAAAACF Social Justice Fund that provides bail and legal aid to those facing low-level offenses.
  • UP Partnership for youth leadership and workforce development grants focused on helping communities of color.
  • SAAFdn has contributed $14 million into programs on education, economic opportunities and social justice.
  • Partnership with the City of San Antonio and Metro Health to address health disparities.

Advocates say more can be done to help San Antonio address these inequities. They include:

  • Implement alternative methods of traffic law enforcement, including standardizing collection of metrics based on race and ethnicity.
  • Invest in public defense to ensure those unable to retain counsel receive equal representation within the criminal justice system.
  • Expand eligibility requirements for early education programs in order to enable Black children to be more kindergarten-ready.
  • Create more opportunities for Black students to access Advanced Placement courses and gifted and talented programs.
  • Expand paid internships as well as outreach programs to increase African American young adult participation in the workforce.
  • Make more resources available and lift barriers impeding access to credit in order to increase financial stability for low-income African American households.
  • Expand lending and support services to Black small business owners and entrepreneurs.

Read the full report below: