Eric Wang

On March 13, New Haven–based public data analysis firm DataHaven released its 2018 Wellbeing Survey, which focuses on the quality of life in New Haven and Connecticut. The report highlights developments in the public’s perception of accessibility in terms of housing, health care and employment.

According to the published results, Data Haven’s 2018 Wellbeing Survey included interviews with 1,001 respondents in New Haven and 16,043 statewide. For last year’s survey, DataHaven added questions to its survey about respondents’ “experiences with discrimination” based on racial and economic factors. According to data, 15 percent of city residents reported feeling discriminated against when seeking access to healthcare — a rate higher than that across the state, where only 10 percent of respondents reported the same type of experience. In addition, roughly one-fifth of city residents reported having experienced unfair treatment at work due to either their race, national origins, gender, race sexual orientation or a physical disability.

In the lead up to the most recent survey, DataHaven’s advising council suggested adding questions on discrimination. The council is composed of about 125 local sponsoring and collaborating organizations. Among the community organization that compose the council is The Community Foundation of Greater New Haven, a regional grant-maker.

“We add new questions each year,” Mark Abraham ’04, executive director of DataHaven, told the News. “Groups are at the forefront of shaping the survey, and later, of getting the information out to the community.”

Comparisons between the 2015 and 2018 New Haven Wellbeing Survey reports show that in many respects, New Haven remains in line with broader trends observed in the Nutmeg State. In most cases where the state as a whole displays a positive trend, the Elm City seems to follow suit. Following trends across the state, an increased number of residents view New Haven as a city with improving employment opportunity and local political efficacy, compared to the 2015 survey results.

Survey results confirm that perceptions of job prospects are improving in the Elm City — particularly among older adults. Last year, 37 percent of New Haven adult respondents affirmed their belief that city residents are able to find suitable employment, a statistic up 9 percent from three years prior.

But even in metrics where there are state-city gaps, New Haven is experiencing signs of improvement. While the 2018 survey indicated that city residents are still twice as likely as other residents of the state to view their city as a poor place to raise a child, the percentage of residents who see New Haven as a positive place to raise children has increased by 6 percent since 2015 — from 37 percent to 43 percent.

New Haven may also be pushing against other state trends for the better.

Survey results found that New Haven residents are significantly more likely than residents of the state of Connecticut to find stores, banks or “places to go” within walking distance, feel safe walking in their immediate neighborhoods and feel safe walking around their neighborhood at night.

“New Haven is continuously being seen as more walkable, whereas the state as a whole is not changing its image in that way,” said Abraham.

Abraham said that he believes New Haven’s high scores in walkability could come from parallel increases in perception of safety and “the proximity of places to walk around work and home.”

According to Abraham, these improvements demonstrate that while other major Conneticut cities are perceived as increasingly unsafe, New Haven diverges from that trajectory. Beyond the most recent results, community organization leaders emphasized their belief that multiple years of published reports will bring more opportunities for comparing overarching trends and improve their organizations’ capacity to respond to the needs of the community.

“The [Wellbeing] Survey gives us a chance to hear from resident voices in a way that might not normally be possible. It is very helpful from an inclusion point of view in hearing other people’s perspectives,” said Christina Ciociola, senior vice president of grant making and strategy at The Community Foundation. “We are concerned with long term results — in some of these indicators you won’t see drastic changes over short periods of time.”

Ciocola added that the foundation hopes to continue collaborating with data collection efforts like DataHaven’s Wellbeing Survey to gather data that can spot improvements and declines in socioeconomic disparities. Analyzing future trends, she said, will allow The Foundation to better organize its grant-making process.

Nancy Hamson, director of strategy and community health improvement at Yale New Haven Health Services, said that Yale New Haven Hospital also plans to incorporate the study’s results into the organization’s Community Health Needs Assessments under its Healthy New Haven Partnership. The assessment helps the Yale New Haven Health Service and other local nonprofits plan future allocations of funding throughout the region.

Data Haven celebrated its 25th anniversary in November 2018.

Emiliano Gómez | emiliano.gomez@yale.edu .