Community Pulse

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Community Pulse

December 2017

Community Pulse 2017

This issue of the Community Pulse presents the findings from our 2017 survey.

Community Pulse 2017 Survey Results

Introduction

Every year, the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond surveys experts who represent the Fifth District’s numerous and highly diverse communities. The purpose of the survey is to identify the most pressing current and emerging issues in our District.

This issue of Community Pulse presents the findings from our 2017 survey. We received 323 responses to the survey. The respondents represent a broad cross-section of community perspectives across Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.

For the first time, we present survey results by state. There is no break out of results for the District of Columbia because there were fewer than 10 responses from this geography.

Distribution of Responsdents

*The respondent’s geographic area is based on their answer to “Please select the jurisdiction in which your organization/business has its primary location.”

Client Type

Best description of your organization

Other (please specify)

25.39%

Local Governing Body

13.62%

Philanthropic Organization

6.50%

Academia or Policy Center

6.19%

Community Development Corporation (CDC)

6.19%

Chamber of Commerce

5.26%

Social Services or Public Health Agency

5.26%

Local Economic Development Authority

4.95%

Community Bank

4.64%

Community Action Agency (CAA)

3.41%

Community Development Financial Institution

3.10%

Local Housing Authority

3.10%

Urban/MSA Community Development Non-profit

3.10%

Small/Medium Established Company

2.48%

Other Financial Institution

1.24%

Small/Medium Start-up Company

1.24%

State Department of Housing and Community Development Agency

1.24%

Rural Community Development Non-profit

1.24%

Small Business Development Center (SBDC)

0.62%

State Housing Finance Agency

0.62%

Law Firm or Public Courts System

0.31%

Law Firm or Public Courts System

0.31%

Credit Union

0.00%

Primary issue area you focus on in your work

Economic development, agriculture, or small business

26.63%

Other (please specify)

26.32%

Housing

19.81%

Workforce development, job training, or placement

8.05%

Education

6.50%

Health and wellness

6.19%

Financial education, services, or assistance

4.95%

Community reentry, criminal justice, legal services, or public safety

0.93%

Emergency assistance

0.62%

Current Issues: Rankings

Amount of and/or access to affordable housing remains the top current issue among respondents.

 

More than 13 percent of the votes cast for the top current issue having the most significant impact on the welfare of their communities went to amount of and/or access to affordable housing. The second and third ranked issues were skill level of local labor force (soft and/or technical) and generational poverty. In 2016, access to affordable housing was the top issue with slightly over 16 percent of the votes. The second and third ranked issues in 2017 were new additions to the list of current issues from which respondents could vote.

Note: Based on 323 respondents answering the question: “Based on your experience, please rank the TOP THREE CURRENT issues having the most significant impact on the welfare of the communities you serve TODAY.”

Current Issues: Top 5 Rankings by Fifth District State

Amount of and/or access to affordable housing is the top current issue in Maryland, North Carolina and South Carolina.

 

The top current issue at the state level varies across the states in the Fifth District. Amount of and/or access to affordable housing is the top vote getting issue in Maryland, North Carolina and South Carolina. For Virginia, skill level of local labor force (soft and/or technical) is the top issue. In West Virginia, the top issue is misuse of and addiction to opioids including prescription pain relievers, heroin, and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. Even though the states do differ on their top overall current issue, we do see certain issues, including amount of and/or access to affordable housing, skill level of local labor force (soft and/or technical), improving the quality of K–12 education and availability of local job options, appear in the top five ranking for at least four out of the five states in the Fifth District.

Maryland

Issue

Share

Amount of and/or access to affordable housing

16.31%

Adequate transportation infrastructure, including availability and reliability of public transit options (bus, subway, light rail, etc.)

9.93%

Impact of income inequality in local communities

9.57%

Skill level of local labor force (soft and/or technical)

8.51%

Improving the quality of K–12 education

7.80%

North Carolina

Issue

Share

Amount of and/or access to affordable housing

14.97%

Generational poverty

13.61%

Skill level of local labor force (soft and/or technical)                               

12.93%

Availability of rental housing

8.16%

Availability of local job options

7.48%

Improving the quality of K–12 education

7.48%

South Carolina

Issue

Share

Amount of and/or access to affordable housing

18.52%

Skill level of local labor force (soft and/or technical)

12.35%

Availability of rental housing

11.11%

Improving the quality of K–12 education

11.11%

Adequate transportation infrastructure including availability and reliability of public transit options (bus, subway, light rail, etc.)

8.64%

Availability of local job options

6.17%

Impact of income inequality in local communities

6.17%

Virginia

Issue

Share

Skill level of local labor force (soft and/or technical)                                                   

11.64%

Amount of and/or access to affordable housing

10.38%

Generational poverty

10.06%

Availability of local job options

8.49%

Improving the quality of K–12 education

7.86%

West Virginia

Issue

Share

Misuse of and addiction to opioids including prescription pain relievers, heroin, and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl

16.26%

Availability of local job options

13.01%

Generational poverty

11.38%

Skill level of local labor force (soft and/or technical)

7.32%

Amount of and/or access to affordable housing

6.50%

Ability to connect to the Internet at broadband speeds

6.50%

Leadership gaps in local communities

6.50%

Note: The geographic distribution of respondents answering the question — “Based on your experience, please rank the TOP THREE CURRENT issues having the most significant impact on the welfare of the communities you serve TODAY” — is Maryland (94), North Carolina (49), South Carolina (27), Virginia (106) and West Virginia (41).

Current Issues: Rationales

• Current Issues: Rationales — Amount of and/or access to affordable housing

If you have time, please provide a brief explanation for your rationale in selecting the issues that you ranked as TOP THREE in the question above. The selected quotes below represent explanations written verbatim by respondents.

MD

“[Q]uality affordable housing will be the Achilles heel of cities in the long-term if not rectified.”
— Chamber of Commerce (Maryland)

“Families are unable to get ahead due to lack of affordable rental housing, a living wage and transportation. Many families pay more than 65% of their income in housing. Additionally, the wages have been stagnant and with a low availability of affordable housing does not allow families to move up. This is then exasperated by transportation that is not reliable and requires long travels and often does not meet the job schedule for on-time arrival and/or no way to get home depending on your shift.”
— Other (Maryland)

“One major disparity is in the rate of home ownership. Less than half of black households in Maryland own the home that they reside in. More than three-fourths of whites are homeowners. Home ownership is an important way for families to build wealth[;] however[,] black Marylanders lag behind for a number of reasons that can be attributed to institutional and systemic barriers.”
—Community Development Financial Institution (Maryland)


NC

“Affordable housing is needed for people. Right now, low-income housing is being torn down and mixed use communities are rising in its place. Where are the low-income families that were booted out of those original communities to go[?] So many places are turning down housing vouchers. The jobs that some of these families can get a[re] low paying jobs and they can’t afford the $800– $1,100 rent for the apartments that [are] now in the place of the low-income housing they used to live in. So they move further and further out, which places them on the outskirts of town where there may be no bus services or it takes two buses now to get to work making the commute even longer.”
— Social Services or Public Health Agency (North Carolina)

“The shortage of new homes and the price of new homes has driven the value of existing homes up and beyond the reach of many individuals. Increasingly, more and more homes are being directed at the rental market because of demand for them[,] but the monthly rents are not affordable for a greater percentage of the population. The effect of short-term rentals and Air BnB type rentals is contributing to the increase in rents as it further dries up the available long-term rental supply of houses.”
— Other (North Carolina)

“Like many communities in our country, we have growth in high-income jobs[,] which creates more service sector jobs. However, the new housing stock that is being develop[ed] is for the high-income earners. The service sector employees are having to search for affordable housing in the surrounding counties[,] which requires them to drive long distances to and from their jobs. Even though their housing cost is less expensive than in the urban area, the cost of maintaining dependable vehicles eats up a larger portion of the income.”
— Social Services or Public Health Agency (North Carolina)

“Affordable housing is an issue especially in the urban communities and lack of safe and decent housing is a problem in the rural communities. Stable housing is the foundation for a [family’s] stability.”
— Other Financial Institution (North Carolina)


SC

“We are a booming college town and housing growth and other economic development is rapidly decreasing the availability of affordable housing in areas where transportation is accessible. Growth is impacting existing housing as well where rents are doubling and in some areas tripling. There has also been a tremendous decrease in number of Section 8 units as a result of growth.”
— Local Governing Body (South Carolina)

“The lack of affordable housing has been a struggle. Families with lower income are forced to spend over half of their take home pay to cover decent housing. Due to the lack of affordable housing and the income disparity a lot of individuals are force[d] to seek predatory lenders to help bridge the gap in their income or they are going without food and other necessary things to take care of their family.”
— Other (South Carolina)


VA

“Amount of and/or access to affordable housing — Seemingly in all major metropolitan areas, where the majority of jobs are located, housing is expensive for upper middle class families and completely unaffordable for lower middle families. This causes families to live outside of these areas, have longer and more expensive commutes, and generally experience lower quality of life.”
— Academia or Policy Center (Virginia)

“Quality housing options at an affordable price are becoming hard to find in Central Virginia. As a region, we are losing existing affordable housing stock as outside investors are acquiring these properties and converting them to market-rate assets. The capacity of the non[-]profit community is modest and does not respond in a commensurate manner with growing demand for affordable housing choices. The for-profit development industry seems to be primarily focused on market rate development. Additionally, as more individuals move back to the urban core, rental as well as home ownership price points continue to rise and put pressure on more modest-income families. If you don’t have housing security at a reasonable cost, then it is difficult to maintain stable employment or to do well in achieving educational success.”
— Community Development Corporation (CDC) (Virginia)

“The Washington DC Metro area is the wealthiest part of the country. However, that growing wealth is continuously displacing the low- and moderate-income communities as neighborhoods gentrify, and more developers see opportunities to create luxury housing that caters to the elite, professional crowd. The same developers don’t have the incentives to build affordable housing, or at the very least set aside affordable housing units in their developments. This also drives out small businesses, who have been in the area for decades, as they try to compete with the big chains and upscale brands that these new, high-priced dwellings demand. Rents and leases go up, as do taxes, and small business owners are left to make ends meet, or to completely shutter their businesses.”
– Community Bank (Virginia)


WV

“WV has a shortage of affordable quality housing — especially for the elderly and disabled.”
— Local Housing Authority (West Virginia)



• Current Issues: Rationales — Skill level of local labor force (soft and/or technical)

If you have time, please provide a brief explanation for your rationale in selecting the issues that you ranked as TOP THREE in the question above. The selected quotes below represent explanations written verbatim by respondents.

MD

“[T]here are many skilled, middle-class jobs that pay a living wage. However, there are not enough qualified workers to fill those positions. In order to fill those positions, there needs to be more capacity in training and availability of information, particularly with youth.”
— Chamber of Commerce (Maryland)

“Jobs and the skills required to get the job is a huge mismatch.”
— Philanthropic Organization (Maryland)

“The job skill set should be adjusted so as not to entail high-level critical thinking. It is a must for manufacturing and productive jobs to return to America. Maryland once had a wide variety of production companies, Maryland Cup Company, Sweetheart Cup Company, Westinghouse, Bethlehem Steel, etc., that provided above average pay to families to earn a rather decent living without a college education.”
— Small/Medium Established Company (Maryland)


NC

“Employers are still in need of workforce with skills matching needs. Systems exist to help close this gap but are underutilized. Filling these jobs will help the region compete more effectively and will help close the gap in economic prosperity and productivity.”
— Other (North Carolina)

“[F]ewer local citizens are able to meet the skill levels required to perform higher level industrial jobs. Public schools and community college are just now catching up.”
— Local Economic Development Authority (North Carolina)

“We have jobs and people who need or want jobs but their skills don't match. Generally these are people without a good education who come from families that have not had the advantages of a stable income and have not had the advantages of education.”
— Chamber of Commerce (North Carolina)


SC

“Thousands of manufacturing and service sector jobs have been announced over the past twelve months; however, skill sets sometimes do not match the jobs available (or coming) and the candidate pool shrinks further through elimination of those who have failed drug tests.”
— Other (South Carolina)

“Our labor market is currently tight[;] we are experiencing unemployment rates that have not been seen in twenty years. Couple that with the ‘gray tsunami’ and the impending retirements in the next 5 years[,] and we have some concerns. If a new industry were to locate or an existing industry had a significant expansion[,] the labor force could be maxed out. Throw in the fact that there are jobs looking for people (skills gap) and we have the perfect storm brewing.”
— Local Economic Development Authority (South Carolina)

“On the other hand, the employers who are here are hard pressed to find the skill sets they need to fulfill their workforce from the local residents. There is a lack of soft skills and the public education system doesn't really work with local employers to try and meet their workforce needs. Young people who grow up here, graduate from high school and proceed to college rarely return to live due to the lack of life sustaining jobs. There are jobs that are vacant, but they rarely pay a living wage. It's a conundrum.”
— Philanthropic Organization (South Carolina)

“South Carolina has done an excellent job of recruiting major employers to the area; however, we lack the skilled labor force that they need for advanced manufacturing and distribution logistics jobs. We are unable to recruit talent from northern states because our pay is lower than they are accustomed to.”
— Small Business Development Center (SBDC) (South Carolina)


VA

"Shortage of skilled workforce in various construction trades, such as electricians, welders, plumbers[,] in addition to disconnects between labor force and job skills needed in 21st Century industry.” 
— Local Governing Body (Virginia)

“Technical skills and the retraining of the workforce when the past employers either reduce or end production are huge challenges that only now are starting to become a priority. The new economy requires a major re-think of our educational and technical training programs for those now in school, and providing avenues for those unable to find a new occupation.”
— Other (Virginia)

“Employers in manufacturing and marine related industries report job openings that start at $30/hour, but a lack of skilled labor pool.”
— Local Governing Body (Virginia)

“[T]here is actually a large and growing market in RVA, but our low-income populations don't have the skills needed to fill these roles. [W]e need to help them develop a skill set so they can fill these vacancies[.]”
— Social Services or Public Health Agency (Virginia)

“Rural communities are where manufacturing was once the major employer. As a result, older workforce lacks the technical skill required for today's workforce. That lack of skills is a detriment to attracting new businesses to our area.”
— Community Bank (Virginia)

“Within our workforce region, higher skill technical jobs exist but there is a skill mismatch between higher skill jobs that the existing workforce with lower skills.”
— Other (Virginia)


WV

“Few options exist at the entry level to livable wage jobs. Opportunities exist for high-skill jobs and low-skill jobs. There is a gap in the middle, which would allow workers to gain skills suitable to allow for their advancement into high income/higher job security employment.”
— Local Economic Development Authority (West Virginia)

“Need higher wage jobs and the workers to fill those jobs have to attain the skills and maintain a clean drug screen to maintain those jobs.”
— Philanthropic Organization (West Virginia)



• Current Issues: Rationales — Generational poverty

If you have time, please provide a brief explanation for your rationale in selecting the issues that you ranked as TOP THREE in the question above. The selected quotes below represent explanations written verbatim by respondents.

MD

Generational poverty is perpetuated by lack of education and instability of neighborhoods that don't have affordable housing. Poverty, without hope, is incubator for illness, crime, violence.”
— Other (Maryland)

“We witness a cycle of poverty which has low income and high (relative) expenses at its core. Our experience has been that many individuals in our communities are unemployable, and those that are employable have very limited local options. Residents are forced to choose because quality housing and affordable housing. It's our group's mission to provide quality, affordable housing and we do what we're able. We are only a piece of the solution, though, and until families are able to build generational wealth (housing being historically a good place to start), families are stuck in this cycle.”
— Small/Medium Established Company  (Maryland)


NC

Generational poverty (#1 issue) drives both the quality of K–12 (#2) in that the public school system is handicapped by a weak residential property value/revenue base (for school maintenance/equipment/supplies/and programming) and to allow competition for more skilled/qualified teachers)[,] and by students who do not have the support (financial and personal), encouragement, role models and other influences needed to encourage their success.”
— Local Economic Development Authority (North Carolina)

“Generational poverty is #1 because it has its roots in all the others.”
— Philanthropic Organization (North Carolina)

“All of this connects to generational poverty, in my opinion, and to a need for intervention with families and babies in their earliest days in order to have a long-term fix.”
— Chamber of Commerce (North Carolina)

“Rural poverty reduction is the most significant issue across our region and rural America. Elected officials of neither political party on both the state and national level are addressing this. There needs to be a focus on rural poverty across our region, starting with the counties of persistent poverty (USDA designation).”
— Community Action Agency (CAA) (North Carolina)


SC

“Generational poverty is at the core of halting economic mobility of families. The inability of children born into poverty to escape poverty is a measure of a successful society. The US and South Carolina is failing in this area.”
— Other (South Carolina)


VA

"Generational poverty — While our state and local governments and non[-]profits have some innovative programs to address poverty, they are almost exclusively treating the side effects of poverty and not the root causes. Our society lacks the solutions or will to do what is necessary to truly reduce generational poverty. Being poor is probably the greatest predictor of bad health, education and other outcomes.” 
— Academia or Policy Center (Virginia)

“Generational poverty is a large concern for the areas we serve. The poverty level of areas served by Bank of the James is greater than that of Virginia’s as a whole.”
— Community Bank  (Virginia)

“Generational poverty due to inequitable and unfair policies continue to impact current disparities along lines of education, transportation, workforce development, etc.” 
— Other (Virginia)

“Generational poverty is significantly impacting the manner in which individuals in our region are making critical decisions regarding education, career exploration, safe housing and health/wellbeing.”
— Other  (Virginia)


WV

“Generational poverty is tied to substance abuse and arises in part from the declining job market across the last 2 decades in the energy sector, specifically coal. No jobs leads to misuse/abuse of drugs and generational poverty[,] and not necessarily sequentially.”
— Academia or Policy Center (West Virginia)

“That said, I claim generational poverty as the top issue throughout Appalachia because it has robbed our people of their sense of agency. The depth of dependency here is a cultural attribute that causes many of the other ‘presenting’ issues listed above.”
— Academia or Policy Center (West Virginia)

“Generational poverty limits belief that things could be different as well as role models of how to deal with adversity and the challenges of meeting everyday expenses. There are no funds available for emergency situations.”
— Philanthropic Organization (West Virginia)

“I chose generational poverty second because it also contains the inter-generational effects of adverse childhood experiences, and many of the other social determinants of health. Poverty from this perspective is not only about income or education, but a statement about attitudes toward education and social structures that perpetuate poverty. It includes not only material poverty but also spiritual poverty.”
— Social Services or Public Health Agency (West Virginia)



• Current Issues: Rationales — Misuse of and addiction to opioids including prescription pain relievers, heroin, and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl

If you have time, please provide a brief explanation for your rationale in selecting the issues that you ranked as TOP THREE in the question above. The selected quotes below represent explanations written verbatim by respondents.

MD

“Opioid addiction is a big issue in the state but is not directly the population our agency serves.”
— State Department of Housing and Community Development Agency (Maryland)

“They are dying in very high number[s] from the opioid crisis, and nothing our community has done to date seems to impact the numbers. It is devastating us.”
— Community Development Corporation (CDC) (Maryland)


NC

“Poverty leads to the misuse of prescription drugs, etc. We're experiencing a true ‘lack of hope’ within many of our citizens, resulting in the misuse of prescription and other drugs.”
— Chamber of Commerce (North Carolina)


VA

"It is critical we, the community and stakeholders, help resolve the critical issues with misuse and addiction to Opioids to save lives in our communities.” 
—  State Department of Aging and Rehabilitative Services (Virginia)

“We have a high heroin problem in our area.”
— Non-profit Housing Counseling Agency  (Virginia)

“Lastly, we were reputed to be the leader in opioid usage in the commonwealth”
— Local Governing Body (Virginia)

“We have limited options for preventing or treating the opioid crisis. We cannot arrest our way out of it, and each day doctors prescribe more and more pain killers unnecessarily.”
— Local Governing Body (Virginia)


WV

“WV leads the nation in overdose deaths and the opioid epidemic has affected everyone — limiting our workforce (caregivers), impacts on families related to abusive situations, etc.”
— Local Housing Authority (West Virginia)

“These three issues are interconnected. It is no secret that opioid use has devastated West Virginia, particularly the Southern Coalfields already reeling from an economic collapse in the coal industry and population loss. This is directly correlated with increased health care costs and terrible population health outcomes. Consequently, those increased costs and poor health outcomes sap the ability of local communities, including cities and counties, to provide basic services. These communities are constantly responding to opioid overdoses, related drug crime and other externalities associated with opioid use.”
— Academia or Policy Center (West Virginia)

“The area has been ravaged by the opioid epidemic. Huntington has had the unfortunate opportunity to make national news with regards to the drug problems. The problem is compounded with crime rates that are out of the roof.”
— Medium Acute Inpatient Teaching Hospital (West Virginia)

“Opioid abuse is the public health crisis of a generation. [Consequences] of this epidemic will be impacting the US for a very long time. A lost generation, not unlike that seen in Africa from the AIDS epidemic, with disruption of families. Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome children survivors are just now reaching school age. Loss of economic productivity and the financial burden generated from these issues is almost incomprehensible. Root cause analysis shows generational poverty, adverse childhood experiences and unemployability from the inability to pass a drug test will negatively impact Appalachia in additional economic ways.”
— Local Health Department (West Virginia)

“Opioid crisis and addiction is having an impact on everyone in our communities. Number of deaths of young people is skyrocketing. Many are unemployable because they cannot pass drug tests. Lack of treatment facilities and financial resources prevents those willing to engage in recovery from doing so.”
— Philanthropic Organization (West Virginia)

“Without question, the worst public health problem of my career is the opioid epidemic.”
— Social Services or Public Health Agency (West Virginia)

“The opioid epidemic has devastated families and communities statewide, region-wide and nationwide. The primary reason for removal of children due to abuse/neglect is now drug-involved parents/households. This will have negative effects on these children throughout their lifetimes, creating challenges for communities.”
— Professional Association (West Virginia)


Phrases Word Cloud

The word cloud shows the phrases used by respondents in their response to the question that asked for their rationale in selecting the issues that they ranked as TOP THREE current issues in their communities. The text size corresponds to the number of respondents who used the same phrase. Due to word cloud size constraints, the visual is showing only those phrases that were mentioned by at least six respondents in their answers. For example, there were 15 instances of “health care” among 11 respondents compared to six instances of “job opportunities” among six respondents.

 

Significant Concerns

Significant Concern: Income and Financial Stability

What is the most significant concern you have around income and financial stability for low- and moderate-income individuals in your geographic service area?

Other:

“Families are living paycheck to paycheck and must make tough choices on what gets paid each month.”

“Lack of financial literacy and the understanding of how life choices can impact your potential for financial stability.”

“Substandard housing and general housing insecurity[,] which negatively impacts employment, health and educational opportunities for children — the root causes of financial instability.”

“There aren’t stable jobs that provide enough income, and there aren’t enough employment pipelines to help build out the skills people need.”


Note: Based on 317 responses to the question: “What is the most significant concern you have around income and financial stability for low- and moderate-income individuals in your geographic service area?”


 

Significant Concern: Education

What is the most significant concern you have around education for low- and moderate-income individuals in your geographic service area?

Other:

“Concentrated poverty housing/neighborhoods that leads to concentrated poverty schools. Schools with 90% free and reduced lunch eligible populations are by definition inequitable and will have fewer resources and more challenges.”

“Incorporating approaches that help teachers adopt a growth mindset with children who come from low- and moderate-income families that encourages children to learn and helps balance/offset some of the gaps that start at birth.”

“Lack of understanding in general about the importance of vocational and career-based education so students and parents make decisions based on data versus misperceptions and myths about a university education.”

“Disparities in general, but lack of equitable access to enrichment opportunities (i.e.[,] after school, summer, arts).”


Note: Based on 312 responses to the question: “What is the most significant concern you have around education for low- and moderate-income individuals in your geographic service area?”


 

Significant Concern: Employment Opportunities

What is the most significant concern you have around employment opportunities for low- and moderate-income individuals in your geographic service area?

Other:

“High commute times for neighborhoods with high unemployment — means that workers are traveling very far to fill jobs elsewhere AND there are not enough jobs in the neighborhoods themselves.”

“[L]ack of career pathways programs that successful[ly] support participants in moving permanently out of poverty in an average of 3–5 years based on their educational and well-being level when they enter a career pathways program. … Also, programs need to be multi-generational to assist children in improving their educational motivation and skills while supporting caregivers at the same time (see above).”

“Our current workforce has difficulty passing drug tests because quality workers have left the state to find work that pays livable wages. It is difficult for professionals to make a decent income.”

“Inadequate understanding of employer needs as well as a lack coordination of transitional services and training to enable low/moderate income candidates to transition and persevere into a living wage career pathway.”


Note: Based on 317 responses to the question: “What is the most significant concern you have around employment opportunities for low- and moderate-income individuals in your geographic service area?”


 

Significant Concern: Housing Opportunities

What is the most significant concern you have around housing opportunities for low- and moderate-income individuals in your geographic service area?

Other:

“The impact of crime on home values and the physical condition of the housing stock in low-income neighborhoods.”

“Fixed Metro Area Fair Market Rent for the value of vouchers is creating severe pressure in moderately priced housing in decent neighborhoods.”

“[O]verconcentration of low-income housing. [W]e need to create more socioeconomically diverse communities.”

“Home budget management support and employment support that enables individuals and families to access affordable housing and remain in it. Many private landlords are hesitant to rent to anyone who doesn't have the employment to support their rental agreements or are in unstable employment such as construction.”


Note: Based on 316 responses to the question: “What is the most significant concern you have around housing opportunities for low- and moderate-income individuals in your geographic service area?”


 

Significant Concern: Health

What is the most significant concern you have around health for low- and moderate-income individuals in your geographic service area?

Other:

“[F]inancial, physical or cognitive lack of access to foods that are healthy and prevent diseases.”

“The ER has inappropriately become the only health care available to indigent rather than much more cost-effective free standing clinics.”

“Lack of quality mental/behavioral health resources.”

“[F]ailure to acknowledge housing and proximity to poison from adjacent businesses for residents.”


Note: Based on 301 responses to the question: “What is the most significant concern you have around health for low- and moderate-income individuals in your geographic service area?”


 

Significant Concern: Small Business and Entrepreneurship

What is the most significant concern you have around small business and entrepreneurship for low- and moderate-income individuals in your geographic service area?

Other:

“[C]areer pathways counseling and support with long-term entrepreneurial training related to realistic vocational interests.”

“Lack of reasonably priced patient capital to support entrepreneurs.”

“Many are strapped with student loan debt and cannot obtain necessary financing because of the debt.”

“Lack of affordable, dependable, robust infrastructure that supports small businesses, especially broadband.”

“Lack of job opportunities to build experience for entrepreneurs to go off on their own.”


Note: Based on 295 responses to the question: “What is the most significant concern you have around small business and entrepreneurship for low- and moderate-income individuals in your geographic service area?”


 

Significant Concern: Top Concern by Subject Area and State

What is the most significant concern you have around [insert subject area] for low- and moderate-income individuals in your geographic service area?

Note: The geographic distribution of respondents answering the question “What is the most significant concern you have around [insert subject area] for low- and moderate-income individuals in your geographic service area?” is Maryland (85 to 93), North Carolina (45 to 49), South Carolina (26 to 27), Virginia (95 to 104) and West Virginia (39).

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Survey Methodology

The purpose of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond’s Community Pulse survey is to identify the most significant current and emerging issues in the Fifth District’s numerous, highly diverse communities. The survey is administered once a year to a panel of participants representing the community development field in the Fifth District. The participants are chosen based on a predefined set of criteria that best represents the community development industry in the District. The survey was sent to roughly 1,600 community stakeholders. The 2017 survey was administered online from mid-August to early September. Responses were received from 344 individuals, however, only 323 responses contained answers to noncontact information questions.

The 2017 survey instrument consists of 26 questions. When identifying the top current issues, respondents may select from a predefined list of issues or write in their own issues. The list of issues is revised for each round based on the results of the previous round and input from Community Development department staff members. All open-ended responses to survey questions included in this report are taken verbatim from respondents’ written in answers. Any reported percentages have been rounded and may not equal 100 percent. To participate in future surveys or offer feedback, contact Shannon McKay.