Community Profile: Oasis & Thermal

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. 

Demography


Oasis and Thermal are neighbor census designated places in the Eastern Coachella Valley. The population of Oasis is 3,020 and the average household size is 2.93 people.
The population of Thermal is 1,359 with an average household size of 2.87. 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 2.54 people.
Of all households in Thermal and Oasis, 43% and 40% of all households respectively, are either people living alone or with non-relatives.  This is slightly lower than the Coachella Valley average of 41% 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 94.3% Latinx population, while Thermal's is at 99.7%. Both are much higher than the average Latinx population in the rest of the Coachella Valley of 51%

Immigration

Both Thermal (47%) and Oasis (55%) 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 US and California has been rising.
Hover over the chart on the right to see how the immigration population in Thermal and Oasis have changed over time in comparison to the Coachella Valley, CA and the US. 

Education & Insurance

Less than High School Diploma

The rate of people having less than a high school diploma is relatively high in Thermal (60%) and Oasis (74%) 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-quarter of the population is uninsured in both Thermal (25%) and Oasis (28%), which is twice as high as the uninsured rate in the Coachella Valley (12%). 
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, before rising back up. As of 2018, Thermal and Oasis communities had a labor force participation rate of 69% and 64%, respectively. That is higher than the average for the Coachella Valley (55%).
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 US. 

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 24%. 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 US. 

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 (97%) and Oasis (98%) when compared with the Coachella Valley average of 88%

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 2018 estimates, the percentage of overcrowded households fell to 11%. In Thermal household overcrowding reached 20%, according to 2016 estimates, and fell to 10% in 2018 estimates.

Homeownership

Similarly, the rates of homeownership in both Thermal and Oasis have been falling in recent years. As of 2018 estimates, homeownership rates in Thermal were 58% and in Oasis were 78%. The average of these two areas (68%) was close 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 US. 

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 44%, while in Thermal it is 42%. 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

Unsurprisingly given the rate of transit ridership, there are more households without vehicles in Thermal, 6%, whereas in Oasis the rate is 1.4%, and in the Coachella Valley, the rate is 4%

Linguistic Isolation

The rate of non-English speaking households in Thermal and Oasis is about 60%. This is roughly four times as high as the average rate of non-English speaking households in the Coachella Valley which is just 15%

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

The average annual concentration of particulate matter (PM2.5) is a common measure of air quality, 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 ranging 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.

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 above to see how the water quality in these three census tracts compares to the average for the Coachella Valley.
While both communities struggle with these 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 bulid partnerships across the Eastern Coachella Valley to improve access to health services and spread environmental justice. Furthermore, Comite Civico has conducted extensive research and runs important programming in the area that aim at improving air and water quality in the region.

Source Notes: All data in this community profile come from either the 2018 5-year estimates of the American Community Survey. All rent and income data is shown in 2018 dollars for all years. 
Photo Credits: Lift to Rise
Grace Persico
Grace Persico is a Master of Public Policy student interested in education policy, social justice, and community development. She studied international relations and anthropology at UC Davis, graduating with a dual degree in 2013. Prior to beginning her master’s program, Grace worked at Oakland Unified School District organizing summer and after school programs and spent some time abroad teaching in Colombia. In her free time she enjoys traveling, reading, and re-watching every episode of Parks & Rec.