In the northeast Houston neighborhood of Settegast, the average person can expect to live for 66 years, according to federal estimates — giving the neighborhood an unwanted distinction: It has the shortest life expectancy in Harris County. The average person residing in the quiet community just beyond the Loop, where dogs sleep in the streets and horses flick their tails in grassy yards, can expect to live at least 20 years less than the average person does in areas including Clear Lake City, Upper Kirby and parts of the Energy Corridor.
Carolyn Rivera, who has lived in her Settegast home for 43 years, can tick off the maladies facing her neighbors: high blood pressure, a brain tumor, epilepsy. Two teenagers she knows suffer from kidney disease. In the neighborhood, bounded by a Union Pacific railroad terminal on one side and two landfills to the other, it is hard to get fresh food. The city doesn’t provide the same type of drainage other neighborhoods in Houston enjoy. And some homes never fully recovered from damage wrought by floodwaters during Hurricane Harvey. Rivera is turning 80 this year, and she said she plans to spend the entire year celebrating.