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Colorado Springs leaders address lower life expectancy for southeast side residents

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- It's hard to believe that residents on one side of the city have a life expectancy of 16 years lower than anywhere else in town.

"I'm shocked," said southeast side resident Dru Johnson, while walking his dog Friday. "I didn't know that. It definitely should be changed and investigated."

That's the case for the southeast side of Colorado Springs, the area generally between downtown and the airport.

The statistic from El Paso County Health is no surprise to experts who have been following the plight of the southeast side for years, but came as a shock to the city Planning Commission during a presentation at Thursday's meeting.

"That seems like something we should address immediately," said chairman Reggie Graham.

A new effort has already begun. A group of local leaders and planners started the Southeast Community Plan earlier this year. The group will meet regularly to study problems in the area, gather feedback from residents and formulate action plans over the next 12 to 18 months.

A high number of low-income residents, lack of affordable and quality housing, greater health issues, few dining and healthy eating options, and even being hotter in the summer than other parts of town, are reasons given for the level of concern on the southeast side.

"Surveys are telling us that people are dissatisfied with the transit situation," said Hannah Van Nimwegen, the plan's project manager. "They're uncomfortable with riding bikes or walking along Academy Boulevard, for example."

City Councilwoman Yolanda Avila, whose district includes the southeast side, has tried to raise awareness about the situation for several years.

"We need to remove the barriers to opportunity," she said. "One thing that will happen is a project on South Academy Boulevard, from Bijou Street to Drennan Road. "We'll make it more walkable and plant more trees, so that it won't be the heat island that it is now."

During Thursday's presentation, Andrea Vaughn, a graduate student at University of Colorado-Denver, showed images of a reimagined Academy Boulevard as part of a research project.

"We don't know yet if her ideas will be part of the final solutions," Van Nimwegen said. "And it's too early to know how much solutions will cost. But we want to come up with ideas that we think will work."

The clock is already ticking for many southeast side residents, but they hope that solutions will eventually restore some of the lost 16 years in life expectancy.

Scott Harrison

Scott is a reporter for KRDO. Learn more about Scott here.

Comments

21 Comments

  1. Were city funds used to purchase this curse that the city government fervently is banking on?

  2. What is with the serene neighborhood cartoon picture in this article?
    There should be a more representative picture of slum apartment buildings criminals shooting guns and dead bodies laying on the street. No?

    1. Read the article. It explains that it some cheesy rendition of how the neighborhood could be improved. Which changes nothing in homes and lives

  3. The southeast side has been in decline for years, everything from crooked cops and gang members to shootings and other major crimes, slumlords control every property and residents take what they can get. the whole area is a disaster.

    1. Not so brainless one. Actually because the homes in the Southeast area have sold cheaper than homes in other parts of the city many of them have been scooped up renovated fixed up and are occupied by honest hard-working professional, skilled people.
      Not to say that the southeast part of the city is not of lower quality than other parts but it is getting better.
      Even the slummy El Vicino apartments have been purchased totally renovated inside and out.

  4. It is a lifestyle most of them choose. High crime in that area is generational and a substandard education (Dist. 2). Many of them, and City council, complain about the health of the residents in the southeast but I bet each one of them has cable and a massive flat screen TV.

    1. So maybe it is big flat screen TVs and cable that is shortening their lives?
      Band cable and big screen tvs.

  5. @Torigan. Name the “crooked cops” or you just assuming and one of those who believe TV is real.

  6. What a joke. Big deal. They chose their lifestyle to live, eat unhealthy, drink, drugs, or what have you. Please don’t waste tax payer’s money trying to solve and unsolvable situation. I guess the Democrats solution would be to send them some free money to alleviate the stress of living in such austere conditions. Although, I did like Van Nimwegen’s statement on “final solutions”. Now where have I heard that one before? Next they will be playing the “Race Card”, in order to get more funding.

  7. A life expectancy that is 16 years less brings the average age at time of death to people down there to around 60 years of age.
    This is outrageous and frightful this is not what the life expectancy in a modern country like America is Or is supposed to be.
    I do not count at all on any of the local health or government people to figure out what is going on in the southeast part of town to be causing this. This is a matter of grave importance and the state and federal government should be sending in experts both health and environmental to figure out what the hell is going on there.
    The city planners long ago designated the southeast part of town as the ghetto part of the city putting all sorts of industries which may have been dumping God knows what toxic materials into the environment for decades.
    I find it hard to believe that lifestyle alone could be accounting for a 16-year decrease in the life expectancy of people there.

  8. Hey KRDO I hope I do not have to wait a lifetime for my comment to be approved. There is nothing that should be stopping my opinion from being posted other than you trying to cover up some dirty little secrets that the city has done to cause the people living in a certain area of the city to be living 16 years less than average.

  9. The government had better send in scientists wearing biohazard suits to find out what is really going on. I don’t trust local politicians and health officials to get to the bottom of it.
    People dying at around the age of 60 is not normal in America and I do not believe the reasons they cite as being the cause. Something is very wrong in this part of the city.

      1. The article is about a 16-year lower average life expectancy in the southeast part of the city, Einstein.

  10. I’m not sure what the city or politicians can really do about it. People make life choices. Like to drop out of school, move to the city for MJ, live beyond their means such as buying every new gadget that comes out on the market, etc..

  11. I worked with families on the southeast side for years. They are involved in gangs and many are Mexican immigrants. The children by age 10 admire their parents lifestyle and don’t know how to change. I met many kids who had never been to Garden of Gods, to the mountains, inside of a decent single family home. They had no goals nor role models. Most of the youth I worked with had tattoos, babies and gang affiliation by age 16-17. My own kids used to ask “how do we break the cycle?”

  12. They are involved in gangs and many are Mexican immigrants. The children by age 10 admire their parents lifestyle and don’t know how to change. I met many kids who had never been to Garden of Gods, to the mountains, inside of a decent single family home. They had no goals nor role models. Most of the youth I worked with had tattoos, babies and gang affiliation by age 16-17. My own kids used to ask “how do we break the cycle?”

  13. When you also see that shootings, murders, drug overdoses and other causes of death are higher in that part of town also. This is what skews the data to be 16 years…. ohh come on. They say it because there are not healthy restaurants in the hood….. umm that is funny.

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