The Greenwich United Way recently completed its Needs Assessment 2020, which is a community-wide assessment of the human service needs and assets, designed to help make data-informed actions for the public good. The Needs Assessment offers extensive data as well as analysis of where community needs and assets match well and where there is a gap.
Did you know that nearly 23% of Greenwich households have incomes of $50,000 or less?
The full Needs Assessment can be found here: https://greenwichunitedway.org/needs-assessment/purpose-mission-and-objectives/
A Few Excerpts from the Executive Summary:
Housing was, by far, the issue on which respondents placed the most importance, and where there was the greatest gap between perceived importance (high) and belief that the need was being met (low). Nutrition ranked second in terms of importance among respondents. In contrast to housing, respondents perceived nutrition needs as being met relevant to the importance placed upon it.
According to the 2019 Plan for Conservation and Development, 17% of full-time and 23% of part-time Town of Greenwich (TOG) employees live in Greenwich, while 60% of all TOG employees live outside of town. Likewise, 22% of full-time and 18% of part-time Board of Education (BOE) employees live in town, while 60% of all BOE employees live outside of Greenwich.
Residents who provide essential services such as town employees, Greenwich Hospital employees, public and private school teachers, retail store employees and restaurant workers can rarely afford to live in Greenwich or have very limited options for doing so.
High cost, limited space, policy, political polarization, zoning regulations, and strong feelings about Greenwich’s character were among the factors that contribute to the complexity of this issue, according to interviewees. Only 5% of the housing stock in Greenwich qualifies as affordable, short of the 10% mandated by the State of CT. Policies to mitigate this shortage have been developed but have met difficulties in implementation. One such policy, a municipal incentive program to encourage the development of mixed-income housing, has been under a moratorium since November 2019.
Childcare and Early Childhood
Survey data indicated that respondents perceived childcare services in Greenwich to be less than adequate. This perception carried over into interviews, where several participants articulated concerns about limited affordable childcare options.
Early childhood education, while critical, is challenged by low levels of compensation for teachers, high operating costs, strict licensing requirements, and lack of suitable physical spaces. Interview participants were specifically concerned with the closing of a local Early Learning Center serving approximately 100 children, which has contributed to the perceived lack of adequate affordable childcare options in town.
In its recent report, the Commission on Aging reiterated the town’s commitment to support seniors and allow them to age out in the community. In many ways, the issues seniors face in Greenwich are not separate from the issues that the community at large is dealing with–specifically, affordable housing and care, and accessible transportation. However, their increased physical, mental, and economic vulnerabilities make these issues significantly more acute.
Greenwich Communities, formerly the Greenwich Housing Authority, provides over 250 housing units for seniors. However, the high price of housing still presents an impediment to seniors who wish to remain in the community. The challenges presented by housing costs are compounded as seniors transition to fixed-incomes in retirement and their spending on health and care services increases.
Greenwich is a unique community, blessed with resources and diversity unlike most other comparable communities. This 2020 Needs Assessment proves that. It also gives us a blueprint to ensure that what makes this town special can be carried on for future generations.