The supportive services plan seeks to create opportunities for all Washington Village and South Norwalk families to thrive. The plan directly responds to the needs identified through the resident and community needs assessments and seeks to help residents attain greater self-sufficiency and housing stability over the long term, while also attempting to address the disparities between the economically disadvantaged residents in the South Norwalk neighborhood and their wealthy neighbors throughout the rest of Fairfield County.
The goals of the People plan include:
- Residents are well-informed about, have access to and take full advantage of the support services and programs in and around Norwalk.
- Households are economically stable and self-sufficient.
- Children, youth and adults are physically and mentally healthy.
The education strategy focuses on building and sustaining a comprehensive, evidence-based learning community where members of every household embrace the pursuit of high quality education as a positive, lifelong process. The strategy supports an integrated, multi-sector, place-based initiative that emphasizes closing achievement gaps. The strategy's vision is that South Norwalk residents of every age are engaged in meaningful, inviting learning experiences appropriate for every developmental stage that provide opportunities leading to personal growth and enrichment, professional gain, and life success. To achieve this vision, Norwalk ACTS will seek sustained systems change by working with its members to align and coordinate Norwalk's educational organizations, programs, and other assets to offer a diverse range of engaging learning opportunities for South Norwalk residents.
Employment and Work
Unemployment is a significant challenge in South Norwalk. Local employment data show that the Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk region has experienced negative overall job growth over the past year (September 2011-2012) and that regional employment numbers are still well below pre-recession levels.6 The Human Services Council's 2010 Indicators Report notes that there was a downturn in the number of jobs in almost all major industry sectors from 2005 to 2009. As a result, unemployment jumped 50% among Norwalk residents between 2008 and 2009. The unemployment rate in the neighborhood is 17% compared to 10% in both the City of Norwalk and greater Fairfield County.7 Only 60% of Washington Village households have earned income.8 Furthermore, Washington Village residents identified a host of barriers to employment in the resident survey, including low literacy levels, language barriers, limited computer literacy, the need for childcare, and transportation challenges. And despite the fact that 33% of survey respondents expressed an interest in job readiness training, only 2% are currently enrolled.
Health & Wellness
Studies have shown that low-income and minority residents of public housing suffer disproportionately from chronic health conditions, including asthma, diabetes and heart disease. Residents' poor physical health not only affects their quality of life but is also a significant barrier to self-sufficiency. Following is a brief description of some of the most important health and wellness issues at Washington Village.
NHA's goal is to maximize the number of original Washington Village households that return to the newly constructed units. All households living in Washington Village at the time of redevelopment that remain lease-compliant will have a right to return. NHA has informed residents during both public and resident meetings that a revitalization effort is underway that may cause their displacement. The right of all lease-compliant households to return to the new development with first priority for on- or off-site replacement units has been clearly and repeatedly articulated in public meetings.