Excerpt of cover feature article by David Holahan:


DataHaven is an information factory that generates, collects, interprets, and shares data about New Haven — as well as Connecticut and beyond — with fellow nonprofits, government, community organizations, universities and hospitals. Its findings have helped to identify and quantify problems, often spurring government action.

For example, five years ago a survey of Westville residents documented concern about safety at the intersection of Whalley and West Rock avenues, prompting the New Haven Department of Transportation to initiate remedial measures. Other DataHaven surveys have revealed that in some city neighborhoods smoking is endemic (one in three adults) and affordable childcare is sorely lacking, two issues the city is seeking to address.

DataHaven recently published Greater New Haven Community Index 2016, which is updated every few years and is a treasure trove of information on the demographic, economic and social trends that are shaping New Haven and surrounding municipalities. DataHaven partnered with about 50 organizations that helped to fund the survey and, in some cases, collect the data. ....

He points out that one distinctive thing about New Haven is that it is the epitome of urban America — "the most representative urban area in the nation if you look at it demographically" — and so solutions that work here can serve as a road map for sister cities to follow.

"A lot of the issues in New Haven and its suburbs are common to the rest of the country," Abraham said. "We work closely with the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership, 30 cities that are trying to collect information at the neighborhood level and use it for policy change."

Among the facts and figures Abraham shares is that "walkability" in urban neighborhoods — safe streets and the proximity of stores and public spaces — translates into higher real estate values. Another trend he cites is that since the Great Recession struck in 2008, construction has tended away from building single-family homes in the suburbs and towards multifamily units in urban areas like New Haven.

Abraham clearly knows stuff, and when he Tweets people follow: 55,000 at last count. The data he freely shares — data, he pointed out, double annually — indicate that cities like New Haven are rebounding from years of population loss. Increasingly, millennials and aging baby boomers alike are finding urban living preferable to life in the leafy burbs.

Data Point To A Changing New Haven

These figures were derived from Greater New Haven Community Index 2016, which surveyed more than 17,000 New Haven and Connecticut residents last year. Greater New Haven consists of the city of New Haven and 12 surrounding towns. Figures below pertain to the city unless otherwise indicated.

NEW HAVEN RISING: The city has attracted 6,900 new residents since 2000, more than any municipality in the region. Some of its tony suburbs have experienced sluggish or negative population growth.

MORE SINGLES: The percentage of city households with married couples (with or without children) has declined from half (51%) in 1990 to 44% today.

YOUNG & OLD: New Haven's population is getting older but with a median age of 31 (up from 29 in 2000) it is still younger than its neighbors. Since 1990 Greater New Haven's population of young adults (18-34) has decreased by 11%; the number oF children (0-17) remains about the same, while the number of older adults (35-64) increased the most, 22%.

FEMALE & MALE: Females outnumber males in the city, making up 52.9% of the population.

WALK/BIKE TO WORK: More than one in six residents (16%) either walk or bike to work daily, year-round (compared with 3% statewide).

WALKABILITY: Four of five adults (80%) agree that many stores, banks, markets and other places to go are within easy walking distance of their home (compared with 54% statewide).

ARTS & CULTURE: Two-thirds (66%) of adults sometimes or often take advantage of cultural resources and events such as concerts and museums.

ROOM & BOARD: Hotel and food service sales for 2012 in New Haven were $284 million.

IMMIGRATION: One in six city residents (15.8%) is foreign-born, with immigrants nearly doubling their numbers from 1990. More than a quarter (27%) have become citizens and close to half (43%) have at least a college degree, a higher percentage than the native-born U.S. population.

RICH & POOR: In the past 35 years the number of [residents living in affluent and high-income neighborhoods] of Greater New Haven has increased (by 155% and 106% respectively), as has the number of residents [living within] poor and low-income [neighborhoods] (by 166% and 9%). Half of city residents (49%) are low income, up from 46% in 2000, and three of five children age 5 and under live in low-income households. The median income for city residents is $37,508 (compared with $108,231 for Madison). Poverty in Greater New Haven — for example, an annual income under $24,000 for a family of four — has doubled since 1980 to 16% of all residents.

BUILDING BOOM: Nearly two-fifths (38%) of the housing construction in Greater New Haven from 2010 to 2014 was built within the city limits, vs. just 11% from 2000 to 2004. In Greater New Haven, nearly three in five houses (58%) built from 2010 to 2014 were multifamily dwellings, compared with 26% from 2000 to 2004.

OWNING STUFF: Only three in 10 city households (29%) own a home (statewide it's 67%). And nearly three in 10 households (28.5%) do not have a car. Nearly one in five adults (18%) does not have a bank account.

DIVERSITY: New Haven public school students speak 100 different languages at home. Naturalized city adults have higher rates of home ownership than the city average and are more likely to own a business.

OBESITY: New Haven is growing in other ways, too. Nearly one in three residents (32%) is obese, up from 21% in 2000. That compares with about one in four obese statewide (26%, up from 18% in 2000).

SMOKING: Nearly one in five (18%) New Haven adults smokes — about 20,000 people 18 and older. That's virtually the same as in 2000, while smoking statewide has declined to 15%. But in less affluent neighborhoods that make up the city's Promise Zone, one in three adults smokes.

HEALTH & COVERAGE: Nearly three of five (58%) are in good or excellent health, and only 8% of city residents lack health care insurance, down from 13% in 2012. In Greater New Haven only 4% are without coverage. While the morality rate for New Haven is improving, it still lags behind the region. New Haven also has a higher occurrence of low and very low infant birth weight (9.5% and 2% respectively).

SATISFACTION & INSECURITY: More than one in five city residents (22%) has experienced food insecurity, compared with 12% statewide. Nearly the same percentage (21%) report transportation insecurity (vs. 13% statewide). Less than half (44%) feel secure walking in their own neighborhood at night (vs. 71% statewide). On the other hand, three of four city respondents (76%) are satisfied with where they live (compared with 82% statewide).