A new website launched today by Houston Endowment and January Advisors provides data and insights about Greater Houston’s eligible-to-naturalize population and the challenges they face gaining U.S. citizenship. Known as the Greater Houston Citizenship Dashboard, the site makes it easier for service providers and community stakeholders to understand where needs are greatest in the region. In addition, the site locates immigration service providers, allowing legal permanent residents better access to citizenship resources.
“The citizenship dashboard takes a data-based approach to helping residents naturalize and become fully active members in our community,” said Ann B. Stern, president and CEO of Houston Endowment. “We envision the site as a bridge that connects organizations to the communities they serve as well as residents to the resources they need.”
Approximately 300,000 residents in Greater Houston are eligible to become citizens, but less than 10% complete the naturalization process each year. A number of barriers prevent eligible residents from completing the naturalization process, including financial constraints to cover the $725 application fee, limited English proficiency, access to citizenship services, and a lack of knowledge or confusion about the process, which involves completing a complex, 20-page legal document.
Naturalization has benefits for both individuals and the larger community. Naturalized citizens have higher incomes and higher rates of home ownership — which have positive ripple effects on the whole economy — and gain the right to vote and freedom to travel.
The Citizenship Dashboard is the only resource of its kind to showcase Houston-specific data regarding eligible-to-naturalize-residents and the organizations available to serve them. The site uses data from the University of Southern California Equity Research Institute’s Interactive Data Mapping Tool, which provides a look at the population on a national scale. Additionally, American Institute for Research (AIR) provided data on resources available to aid the naturalization process. Houston Endowment hopes community organizations can use the dashboard to increase naturalization rates in the region. The site offers non-identifiable demographic data on a neighborhood level, including age, education, English language proficiency, poverty level, and race/ethnicity makeup. It also calculates the collective residents’ probability to naturalize, allowing organizations and policy makers to understand which groups may need a “nudge” to naturalize compared with those who may need more robust guidance or assistance. A closer look at the dashboard and how it works is available here.