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Tuesday August 16th, 2022 6:36AM

Gainesville 'barely above' national average in annual index

By Jonathan O'Brien Anchor/Reporter
GAINESVILLE –– AARP released its annual livability index this week; the information ranks every city in the country in seven categories. 
 
"Gainesville is in that top half of the country but just barely in the top half,"  Dr. Rodney Harrell, AARP Vice President for Family, Home, and Community, said. "Like most places, that means there are things that could be improved on." 
 
The survey, which AARP started back in 2015, ranks American cities on a scale of 0 to 100. The survey uses publicly available data from the U.S. Census "and other reputable sources." The seven categories are Housing, Neighborhood, Transportation, Environment, Health, Engagement, and Opportunity. 
 
Gainesville scored a 51. The national average is 50, and the statewide average is 48. 
 
The area scored high marks in housing due to the increased availability of homes, but health was the lowest "below average" score it received. 
 
"There are some healthcare professional shortage areas in the city," Harrell explained. "Exercise opportunities are lower than the national average, and the obesity rate is slightly higher as well as the smoking rate." 
 
The website allows users to access the findings for free. The newly redesigned site enables you to zoom in to focus on a specific neighborhood and zip code. 
 
Other than health engagement was another below-average category for the city. Harrell told AccessWDUN that "engagement" refers to connecting to the community. 
 
"While Gainesville has a relatively high number of organizations in the community that people can be involved...the voting rate of slightly lower than other places in the country," he explained. "And there are relatively few called cultural arts and entertainment institutions in the city." 
 
Harrell points out that nowhere in the nation scored a perfect 100, and this is not meant to turn people off to cities and towns based on their scores. 
 
"We want the index to be used for both people who are looking to understand their community or the place they live better, but also to help committees improve," Harrell said. "No place is perfect, and every place has benefits and challenges."
 
You can see the full breakdown on the index by clicking here
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Gainesville 'barely above' national average in annual index
AARP released its annual livability index this week; the information ranks every city in the country in seven categories.
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