Community-driven findings point to affordable housing, child care and behavioral health services as key solutions to promoting well-being
Dec. 17, 2019 – The Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York (CCC) today released a new report that comprehensively documents the needs of children and families in the Elmhurst/Corona community district in Queens. The report reveals that despite high rates of employment, families face significant challenges to economic mobility and lack access to basic supports such as affordable housing, childcare and behavioral health services to address the interconnected stressors young people and their families face.
“The cultural richness of Elmhurst/Corona is exactly why families are drawn to New York City, but hard-working people are facing far too many barriers to making ends meet,” said Jennifer March, Executive Director of Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York. “Affordable housing, high quality child care and afterschool programs, behavioral health supports, among others, are the basic resources parents are desperately seeking to achieve stability and economic mobility.”
The report, Elmhurst/Corona, Queens: Community Driven Solutions to Improve Child and Family Well-being, is the result of a year-long community-based assessment that combines data analysis and community voice, including census and administrative data and insights from over 250 community members. The report’s goal is to draw attention to welcome and worrisome trends in the community and to identify community-level and citywide solutions to some of the most pressing challenges facing children and families.
Elmhurst/Corona has the highest share of foreign-born residents in the city, and more than half claim Latinx heritage and a quarter are Asian or Asian American. More than one-third of households in Elmhurst/Corona are families with children. According to the report:
- Just over 60% of all children in the district live in or near poverty. While rates of employment and labor force participation are high, many residents are in industries that may not pay a living wage to support a family. Often, parents are so dedicated to doing everything in their control to provide a better future for their children that they have little to no leisure time to spend with family.
- More than three-quarters of residents are renting (a greater share than citywide) and more than 25% of these renter households are overcrowded. Residents and service providers cited how many families live in subdivided apartments because housing is unaffordable, and discrimination by landlords is also a major stressor for families looking for housing.
- Demand for childcare vastly outstrips supply, particularly for very young children. Parents expressed challenges finding early care and education services to accommodate their non-traditional work schedules or participation in workforce development and English classes.
- While educational outcomes are improving, graduation rates still lag behind the citywide benchmark and teen birth rates remain higher than the citywide average. Youth expressed real worries about constraints on their economic mobility, educational opportunities and extracurricular opportunities.
- Environmental conditions pose safety concerns as the community experiences higher incidence of traffic density, disruptive noise and the lowest street cleanliness rating in Queens. Residents identified parks, playgrounds and public transit as real assets in the community, but also mentioned concerns around public safety including substance use in public spaces.
- Health trends are generally positive, with longer life expectancy than the citywide average and more favorable infant health outcomes. However, many adults are uninsured (88% of the uninsured are immigrants, and 72% of the uninsured are employed) and concerns around costs and immigration status present barriers to accessing needed services. Residents also called for more behavioral health supports and intergenerational supports to address the interconnected stressors young people and their families face.
“Families were deeply concerned about financial worries, overcrowded living conditions, and federal actions and policies that target immigrants,” said Bijan Kimiagar, CCC’s Associate Executive Director for Research. “Throughout our conversations with community members, parents expressed a desperate desire to spend more time with their children and for services that are not only linguistically accessible and intergenerational but offered in non-stigmatizing settings on evenings and weekends.”
CCC’s report is intended to provide community members, service providers, elected officials and philanthropic organizations a comprehensive assessment of the needs of children and families in the area, as well as the resources available that support their well-being. The report’s policy recommendations include:
- Increasing investments in affordable housing to address overcrowding and services to protect the rights of tenants in rent-stabilized housing, including preventive services to address housing instability.
- Providing assistance to parents in applying for child care and early education services, providing programming that is linguistically accessible and addressing key child development needs such as early intervention and behavioral health.
- Providing multigenerational approaches to behavioral health services and peer-to-peer interventions to address youth depression, bullying and substance abuse.
- Creating more afterschool opportunities, including academic supports, arts and cultural opportunities, and expanding access to programs with hours extending later into the evening to accommodate caregivers with non-traditional working hours.
- Investing in adult literacy and other skills-building programs tailored to the unique needs of immigrant communities to increase access to better paying jobs and to promote more quality time for families.
- Organizing efforts to improve public spaces, particularly parks, and adding pedestrian safety features such as traffic lights, especially close to schools.
- Working with community-based organizations to ensure a complete and accurate count of residents, especially young children, in the 2020 Census.
“Elmhurst/Corona community members – parents, youth, service providers – informed the report findings and recommendations,” said Jack Mullan, CCC’s Research Associate. “By making good on their calls for affordable housing, child care, afterschool, and behavioral health services – and expanding access to existing supports with culturally and linguistically appropriate outreach — we can ensure children and families in Elmhurst/Corona thrive.”
Download the press release here.