Harris County, Texas is the third largest, fastest-growing, and most diverse metropolitan area in the United States.
Despite boom-and-bust cycles, Harris County’s oil-based economy has driven tremendous growth and in-migration of people from other states and nations. Racial and ethnic groups have tended to cluster in certain areas, where they face different risks and challenges. For example, Hispanic residents in the southeastern part of the county are particularly vulnerable to childhood obesity and environmental exposures.
The county faces rapid growth and a number of political and structural constraints, including a state governing structure that prohibits counties from enacting local ordinances and zoning laws. These challenges make it difficult to establish and enforce local health policies. Nevertheless, multiple sectors are collaborating to implement initiatives that address well-being like access to healthy foods and civic engagement. However, given the profound social, economic, and health inequities experienced by Hispanic and Black residents, lasting solutions will require ongoing collaboration, stakeholder commitment, and long-term investment.