For purposes of Executive Order (EO) 12898, a low-income population is defined as a group of individuals living in geographic proximity to one another, or a geographically dispersed or transient (migrant) group of individuals that have household incomes at or below poverty level.
Individuals who are members of the following population groups are considered minorities: American Indian or Alaskan Native, Asian or Pacific Islander, Black (not of Hispanic origin), or Hispanic.
A low income or minority population can be identified where either:
- Low income or minority individuals constitute more than 50% of the population of the project area; or
- The percentage of low income or minority individuals in an affected area is twice that as the county or state as a whole (for example: 30% of the project area is low income but only 15% of the county is low income)
Several methods can be used to determine if there are low income or minority populations present in your project area. The most common and defensible method is to review data provided by the US Census Bureau. This data can be obtained from the American Factfinder portion of Census Bureau website.
The website maintains data for a variety of different areas, including: the entire country, a state, county, census tract, block group, and block. For most projects, data from the census tract or block group level are the most relevant.
The U.S. Census Bureau maintains a variety of data sets on populations, and makes available hundreds of queries describing different population attributes. From the perspective of environmental justice, 4 data sets are the most important:
- P1. – Total Population
- P6. – Race
- P53. – Median Household Income in 1999
- P87. – Poverty Status in 1999 by Age
To determine if there is a low income or minority population in your project area, compare the 4 data sets for the census tract for the project area to the data for the county and state where the project is located.
Another way to determine the presence of low income or minority populations is to conduct interviews with representatives from local schools, health and human services, places of worship, local businesses, and community representatives and leaders. To ensure a good representation, interviews should be conducted from a number of representatives who interact with the public and would have a good idea of the make-up of the population.
If you determine that there are low-income or minority populations in your project area, answer “yes” to Section I, Question 1 in the Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM) Environmental/Historic Preservation Questions. If you determine that there are not low-income or minority populations present in your project area, answer “no” to Section I, Question 1.