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Suburban Connecticut Families Struggle to Access Services

Federal Reserve Bank of Boston

The number of suburban Connecticut families living below the Federal Poverty Line (FPL) has been increasing, but there are many families that earn above the FPL and still struggle to cover the high costs of suburban Connecticut living, according to a new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston (FRBB).

The report – the New England Community Outlook Survey, which was issued in August, asked service providers about their perceptions of the economic and financial conditions of individuals and families with lower incomes in New England. Survey participants from lower-income suburban communities responded that their top challenges included availability of jobs and high transportation costs. In fact, 80% of these respondents indicated that higher transportation costs were either a moderate or very important challenge.

Survey participants also indicated that they were concerned about affordable housing, the cost of childcare, and the cost of healthcare. In Connecticut there are 81,000 families that live outside of lower-income tracts on less than $40,000 a year. It is widely known that lower-income households living in high-income areas find it difficult to afford the price of goods and services driven up by their wealthier neighbors.

The FRBB report takes a closer look into the issue of transportation costs.  The report estimates that a family in the Hartford suburbs with an income of $40,000 and one car would spend $292 every month on transportation.  This would represent 9% of their total income.  The report also looks at average childcare costs in the greater New Haven area.  Quality childcare can be the greatest monthly expense for many families.  In the New Haven suburbs, 72% of all children aged 0-5 have all parents participating in the labor force.

Service providers have limited resources and so they tend to concentrate their work in areas where people with lower incomes are easier to find, i.e. urban areas. This is especially true in Connecticut, where families with lower incomes tend to be highly concentrated in the cities. Focusing resources on urban areas means that more people will receive assistance, but it also means that suburban families with lower incomes may not have access to the services and support networks that affluent towns typically do not provide.

These suburban families with lower incomes not only struggle with a lack of support services, but must also face a higher cost of daily activities, including higher housing costs, higher childcare costs, increased commuting time, and more time searching for a job closer to home. In the suburbs, basic needs like food and healthcare almost certainly require access to a car.

Click here to read the report: 


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