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Community Profile: Oasis and Thermal

 
USC - Lift to Rise Partnership

The Neighborhood Data for Social Change (NDSC) platform is a project of the USC Price Center for Social Innovation. Lift To Rise is partnering with The Price Center in the development of the Neighborhood Data for Social Change (NDSC) platform for the Coachella Valley. Lift to Rise is a community-based partnership in the Coachella Valley with the primary goal of advancing a future where all Coachella Valley families are healthy, stable, and thriving. NDSC will publish an ongoing series of data stories that incorporate maps, data visualizations, photos, and rich narrative to highlight trends, opportunities, and challenges facing communities in the region.

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Community profiles provide insight and information to the nine cities and unincorporated places in the Coachella Valley. The profiles provide precise, relevant data at the community level in combination with interactive maps and visualizations to help community members learn about the most important issues facing their communities and to help policy makers make informed decisions for their constituents. Community profiles are updated annually with the latest data, with new profiles released on a regular basis.

 

Thermal and Oasis are two Census Designated Places (CDPs) in the Eastern Coachella Valley. CDPs are defined geographies for unincorporated communities used by the Census Bureau for statistical purposes. While there are many similarities between these two unincorporated places, there are also important differences that exist between them.

Thermal began as a railroad camp in 1910 before permanent dwellings were established in the 1930s. Today, it operates one of Riverside County’s largest airports. While both communities have a strong agricultural industry, Oasis is made up of many migrant workers who move in and out of the area during specific seasons. While this has led to a less consistent population size in Oasis than in Thermal, rates of housing stability and labor force participation remain high in both communities due to long-time residences and established migration patterns. Compared with the rest of the Coachella Valley, both of these communities have higher rates of residents who are immigrants and people who have less than a high school diploma.

Like much of the unincorporated Eastern Coachella Valley, both communities share a history of community advocacy. Local community efforts have been instrumental in addressing community concerns around the lack of infrastructure, safe and affordable housing, and public health.

Explore the visualizations below to learn more about demography, housing, education, environment, health and social connectedness in Oasis and Thermal, and how the community compares to the state, county and other places in the Coachella Valley. 

Aerial view of the Salton Sea shore from Oasis, Ca. | Lift to Rise
Aerial view of the Salton Sea shore from Oasis, Ca. | Lift to Rise

Demography

Oasis and Thermal are neighboring Census Designated Places in the Eastern Coachella Valley. The population of Oasis is 3,240 and the average household size is 3.29 people. The population of Thermal is 2,166, with an average household size of 3.07. The average household size in both of these places is far larger than the average household size in the rest of the Coachella Valley, which is 2.62 people.

Of all households in Thermal and Oasis, 38% and 35% of households, respectively, are either people living alone or with non-relatives. This is slightly lower than the Coachella Valley average of 39%, but the rate of non-family households has been on the rise in recent years, up from about 10% of households in both areas in 2010.

Race & Ethnicity

Both Oasis and Thermal have large Latinx populations with Oasis having a 95% Latinx population, while Thermal’s is 99.8%. Both are much higher than the average Latinx population in the rest of the Coachella Valley of 52%. 

Immigration

Both Thermal (49%) and Oasis (54%) have high rates of immigrant populations. These communities have immigrant populations about two times higher than the average for the Coachella Valley (25%).  However, both of these populations have been falling slightly over time, while the immigrant population in the U.S. and California has been rising.

Hover over the chart below to see how the immigration population in Thermal and Oasis have changed over time in comparison to the Coachella Valley, CA and the U.S. 

Education & Insurance

Less than High School Diploma

The rate of people with less than a high school diploma is relatively high in Thermal (61%) and Oasis (73%) when compared with the average for the Coachella Valley and Riverside County, which are both closer to 20%. 

Select a community to the right of the chart to see how rates of people with less than a high school diploma compare to Thermal and Oasis. 

Health Insurance

Approximately one-third of the population is uninsured in both Thermal (33%) and Oasis (32%), which is twice as high as the uninsured rate in the Coachella Valley (14%).

Select a community to the right of the chart to see how uninsured population rates compare to Thermal and Oasis.

 

Employment

Labor Force Participation Rate

The labor force participation rate has been falling in recent years in both Thermal and Oasis. However, as of 2017, both communities had a labor force participation rate of about 63%. That is higher than the average for the Coachella Valley (56%).

Hover over the chart on the right to see how the labor force participation rate in Thermal and Oasis have changed over time in comparison to the Coachella Valley, CA and the U.S. 

Poverty Status

The Latinx population living below the Federal Poverty Line is relatively high in both Thermal (34%) and Oasis (45%) compared to the Coachella Valley average of 26%. However, the rate has been falling in recent years. 

Hover over the chart on the right to see how the rate of Latinx living below the poverty line in Thermal and Oasis have changed over time in comparison to the Coachella Valley, CA and the U.S. 

Housing / Real Estate

Housing Stability

Household stability is defined as the percentage of households living in the same housing unit as they were one year ago. The rate of housing stability is high in both Thermal (91%) and Oasis (97%) when compared with the Coachella Valley average of 87%. 

Household Overcrowding

An overcrowded household is one in which there is more than one person per room. The rate of household overcrowding has been falling in both Oasis and Thermal. In Oasis, the percent of overcrowded households reached its peak of 30%, according to 2016 estimates. By 2017 estimates, the percentage of overcrowded households fell to 16%. In Thermal household overcrowding reached 20%, according to 2016 estimates, and fell to 13% in 2017.

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Homeownership

Similarly, the rates of homeownership in both Thermal and Oasis have been falling in recent years. As of 2017 estimates, homeownership rates in Thermal were 73% and in Oasis were 51%. The average of these two areas (62%) was closer to the Coachella Valley average in that year of 66%.

Hover over the chart on the right to see how the rate of homeownership in Thermal and Oasis have changed over time in comparison to the Coachella Valley, CA and the U.S. 

Rent Burden

A household that is rent-burdened spends more than 30% of their income on rent and utilities. The rate of households experiencing rent burden in Oasis is 41%, while in Thermal it is 45%. These rates are lower than the Coachella Valley average of 55%.

Select a community to the right of the chart to see how rent burden rates compare to Oasis and Thermal.

Social Connectedness

Households without Vehicles

The average rate of households without vehicles in Thermal is 10%, whereas in Oasis the rate is 5%, and in the Coachella Valley, the rate is 6%. 

Linguistic Isolation

The rate of non-English speaking households in Thermal and Oasis is about 51%. This is more than twice as high as the average rate of non-English speaking households in the Coachella Valley, which is just 13%. 

Select a community to the right of the chart to see how linguistic isolation rates compare to Thermal and Oasis.

Environment

Environmental quality is measured in a variety of ways, including air and water quality. The environmental quality in the Northern area of the Salton Sea is measured by aggregating three census tracts (456.04, 456.05, 456.09) that include the communities of Thermal and Oasis. This area is marked by high pollution and lower levels of drinking water quality than the rest of the Coachella Valley. 

Air Quality

A common measure of air quality is the average annual concentration of particulate matter (PM2.5), which refers to tiny particles in the air that are 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter, allowing them to penetrate the lungs and bloodstream, causing adverse health effects. Particle matter can include a mixture of organic chemicals, wood, dust, soot, and metals; and can be released into the air from cars and trucks, factories, and wood burning and fires. 

The PM2.5 concentration in these three census tracts in 2017 was 7.55, slightly higher than the Coachella Valley average of 7.26.

Another way to measure air quality is through the Pollution Burden Score, which is an index developed by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA). The index ranges from 0.1 to 10 and measures potential exposure to pollutants and adverse environmental conditions. In 2017, the Pollution Burden Score was 5.89 in these three tracts, much higher than the Coachella Valley average of 3.44.

Explore the visualization below to see how the air quality in these three census tracts compares to the average for the Coachella Valley.

Water Quality

The California OEHHA created an index measuring the average annual concentration of 13 common water contaminants to measure drinking water quality. 

In these three census tracts, the drinking water contaminant index measures 462.22. This number is higher than the Coachella Valley average of 436.29.

Explore the visualization below to see how the water quality in these three census tracts compares to the average for the Coachella Valley.

While both communities struggle with environmental issues, progress is being made due to community mobilization. Recently, the Eastern Coachella Valley was awarded funding from the South Coast Air Quality Management for a pilot program that aims to improve air quality. One organization, Comite Civico, works to build partnerships across the Eastern Coachella Valley to improve access to health services and spread environmental justice. In these efforts, Comite Civico has conducted extensive research and runs important programming in the area that aims at improving air and water quality in the region.

 

Source Notes: All data in this community profile come from either the 2017 5-year estimates of the American Community Survey or the 2016 5-year estimates of the American Community Survey.  

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