CGR Associate Presents Community Information
Several points of regional data including poverty and unemployment rates will be included in Jamestown’s community needs assessment.
Last month, Peter Nabozny an associate at the Rochester-based consulting firm Center for Governmental Research presented demographic data to several community stakeholders who are participating in the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative program, also known as ESPRI.
ESPRI was first introduced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s during his State of the State address last year. Jamestown was one of 16 cities in the state selected to participate in the poverty reduction program. As part of the 2016-17 state budget, the city will received $1 million in state funding for the poverty reduction initiative.
The Center for Governmental Research was hired by the United Way of Southern Chautauqua County, who is the administrator of Jamestown’s Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative program. The demographic data presented by Nabozny will be included in the community needs assessment.
Nabozny said 29 percent of those who live in the city live in poverty. That is 10 percent higher than Chautauqua County’s poverty rate, which is 19 percent. The U.S. and New York state poverty rates are both at 16 percent.
Nabozny said 43 percent of the children under the age of 18 who live in the city live in poverty. He said 28 percent of those who are between the ages of 18 and 64 live in poverty. The city has a poverty rate of 11 percent for those who are 65 and older.
The family poverty rate is 24 percent, which is 39 percent for those with at least one child under the age of 18. The poverty rate is 9 percent for families who do not have a child under 18. For single parents, the poverty rate is 45 percent.
For a single parent with a child under 18 it is 58 percent. For a single mom with a child under the age of 18 it is 61 percent and for a single mom with a child under the age of 5 it is 71 percent.
By ethnicity, the poverty rate in the city is 59 percent for Hispanics, 41 percent for African Americans 22 percent for Asians and 27 percent for Caucasians. Overall, the city’s population is 84 percent white, 9 percent Hispanic, 5 percent African American and 1 percent for Asians.
Of those living in poverty, 46 percent have less than a high school diploma, 17 percent have an associates degree or some collage experience and 9 percent have a bachelor’s degree. Nabozny said 39 percent of those in poverty do not have a job, 33 percent work part-time or only during a part of the year and 4 percent have a full-time, year-round employment.
Nabozny said public assistance for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program countywide has increased from around 15,000 people in 2008-09 to 25,567 in 2015. He said employment has gone down in Chautauqua County since 2000. The decrease in employment has impacted the manufacturing sector the most, which had 13,000 jobs in 2001 and only had 9,700 in 2015, which is a decrease of 27 percent.
While doing research for the community needs assessment, the Center for Governmental Research also hosted several small group discussions with about 70 people, Nabozny said. These group discussions included people who range in age from 15 to 70, who have various education and work experience backgrounds.
Nabozny said, according to those who were interviewed, some of the barriers to finding employment included a lack of access, job training not leading to finding a job, discrimination and language barriers. Public safety concerns included the opioid epidemic and drug related crimes.
People in the focus groups also indicated they had a difficult time finding quality housing because landlords weren’t providing them with a safe place to live, which included infestation problems. Health care concerns included a lack of specialty care, especially for substance abuse; adult primary care and a difficult time accessing providers.
Nabozny said local employers indicated they had a difficult time finding qualified local employees who could pass a drug test and finding workers who possesses soft skills like showing up for work on time.
Nabozny was asked if he witnessed similar challenges in Jamestown that he saw in other communities where he provided a community needs assessment.
“These challenges are not unique to Jamestown, but they are here,” he said. “There is a lot of pride you hear about from people in the community. People want to figure out the challenges.”
Tory Irgang, United Way of Southern Chautauqua County executive director, said a draft copy of the community needs assessment will be sent to ESPRI task force members to review. She said when the assessment is finalized it will be released to the public. The local ESPRI task force has been meeting since November to develop a plan for solutions to help those living in poverty in Jamestown.
The task force consist of representatives from city, county and state government; local school district and educational organizations; nonprofit and faith-based community organizations; local businesses who employee local people; workforce service entities; economic development organizations; public safety officials; and health services providers.
The ESPRI task force is slated later this year to allocate funding toward transformational projects to help those living in poverty in Jamestown.