New Haveners Feeling Somewhat Safer

Data HavenNew Haven residents feel safer in their neighborhoods than they did three years ago, one of many indicators from recent neighborhood surveys that show rising levels of optimism about the city, its government, and the local job market.

Two surveys — the DataHaven Community Wellbeing Survey, which completed in-depth live cell phone and landline interviews with over 16,000 randomly-selected adults throughout Connecticut, as well as a coordinated door-to-door survey conducted by the Community Alliance for Research and Engagement (CARE) at the Yale School of Public Health of about 1,200 residents living within six low-income New Haven neighborhoods — both found that residents in New Haven now have a significantly improved feeling of safety in their own neighborhoods when compared to those who responded to nearly-identical surveys conducted in mid-2012.

The DataHaven Community Wellbeing Survey also found that respondents in the City of New Haven had an improved perception of the effectiveness of the police in 2015, when compared to respondents in 2012.

A total of 44 percent of all adults in the City of New Haven (age 18 and over) reported feeling at least somewhat safe to go on walks in their neighborhoods at night in 2015, a significant increase from the 34 percent who reported the same in 2012, according to the DataHaven survey.  The CARE survey found a similar change in the perceptions of surveyed adults age 18 to 65 living in six of the city’s lower-income neighborhoods. In comparison, 71 percent of residents statewide said that they felt at least somewhat safe to walk at night.

Similarly, 48 percent of New Haven adults felt that the local police are doing an excellent or good job keeping residents safe in 2015, in comparison to 40 percent in 2012, according to DataHaven. While this is still much lower than the 92 percent rating given by residents in the state’s wealthiest towns, it represents a significant improvement that likely reflects a decreased rate of serious violent crime in New Haven over the past few years.

Relative to the statewide averages, the poorer perceptions of safety in the City of New Haven match objective data from the DataHaven survey and other sources — for example, in 2015, 8 percent of all adults living throughout New Haven said that they had been attacked or threatened at least once in the past year, and 15 percent had been the victim of a property crime. These victimization rates were about twice the rate of other residents in Connecticut, where the survey found victimization rates of 4 percent for violent crime and 9 percent for property crime, respectively. In New Haven and statewide, about half of those respondents who were attacked or threatened said that the incident(s) were never reported to the police, and about half of crimes involved someone that the respondent knew or worked with.

Survey respondents were also asked to think about the safety of their neighborhoods from a different perspective — in terms of road safety. When asked about their neighborhoods, 62 percent of New Haven residents strongly agree that there are safe sidewalks and crosswalks on most of the streets, and 41 percent strongly agree that there are places to bicycle. In 2012, only 54 percent and 28 percent of respondents strongly agreed that there were safe places to walk and bike, respectively. These rates of perceived bikeability and walkability were significantly higher than those reported statewide, and higher than those in Connecticut’s other city centers.

This year’s survey also revealed major changes in other key areas of economic well-being — changes that may also have a positive impact on residents’ broader perceptions of safety and security. For example, food insecurity decreased for city residents by 9 percentage points in both the DataHaven and the CARE survey, yet 22 percent of citywide respondents, including one in three residents in low-income neighborhoods, still reported that they could not always afford food for themselves or their families in 2015 (a decrease from 31 percent citywide in 2012). Similarly, under-employment rates within the labor force, a figure that includes workers and potential workers who wish to work as well as those who are working part-time but would rather have a full-time job, also declined citywide, from 32 percent in 2012 to 20 percent in 2015.  Additionally, though the survey reveals that many groups continue to experience serious barriers to obtaining medical care, the proportion of all adults throughout the City of New Haven who reported not having health insurance declined substantially from 2012 to 2015, from 13 percent in 2012 to 8 percent in 2015, similar to the statewide trend.

DataHaven and its statewide partners plan to release more detailed findings, including neighborhood-level results, through reports and public events throughout the year, including the 2016 Connecticut Civic Health Index to be released in Hartford on January 19th. An 18-minute segment on Where We Live last week provides an overview of what is believed to be the largest neighborhood-level well-being survey in the United States.

Aparna Nathan is Research Intern and Mark Abraham is Executive Director at DataHaven, a formal partner of the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership with a 25-year history of public service to Greater New Haven and Connecticut. DataHaven’s mission is to improve quality of life by collecting, sharing and interpreting public data for effective decision making.

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posted by: wendy1 on January 15, 2016  8:47am

Ignore this article and do not go out alone in the dark.  Continue to follow NHPD advice about locking homes and cars.  Read nearby article about a home invasion (more common).

My building, where everyone is a biker, was going to put in a permanent bike rack…until every bike was stolen this fall by the local “junkie” who used a large bolt cutter and is able to climb our fence.

Crime is increasing, expanding, and succeeding here.

posted by: BetweenTwoRocks on January 15, 2016  10:31am

Crime is not increasing. It’s clearly dropping. I’m sorry that wendy1’s building has a bike theft problem, but anecdotal evidence is not real evidence. Real crime in New Haven is dropping, as it is all over Connecticut. We are closing more prisons and letting more misdemeanors off. People are right to feel a bit safer. We have a long way to go, but part of our problem is the constant fear-mongering from the media and of course, Yale.

When all you hear about is the crime and the violence, it’s what you believe is the truth. Most Americans think crime has kept rising since the 90’s and it’s simply not true. It’s a manipulation of the media.

posted by: Mikelive on January 15, 2016  10:33am

wendy1, you make a great point. We are bombarded with the politicians telling us the crime rates are down and everything is hunky dory in out great state when the truth is the jails and prisons are filled to the brim and the judges are tossing criminals back on the streets with slaps on the wrists hourly. The poor cops are going after the same people over and over only to see them back on the street the next day…  The great PR machine wants us to feel safe so that they can continue to keep the one party system alive and well in CT.

I’d love to see some NH cops polled or interviewed on this subject, too bad their bosses wont allow it.

posted by: Adelaide on January 15, 2016  11:02am

TY Josh Levinson for shedding some intelligence to this. One story here and one story there does not a crime wave make. We have had propertry damage over the past yr., thats what happens in a city..If u want to be really really safe, then the boring burbs are calling. If one is looking for utopia, it isn’t here. Serious drug and alcohol issues in our neighborhood were dealt with responsibly. The NH police were very good about our concerns and took it to heart.
I don’t feel sorry for the “poor police” and I doubt they would like to be viewed that way. These people are tough, I mean really tough!! There are some idiots but when I worked for the state there were a whole lot of them there too!
Crime is down; there is just NO doubt about it. Scare tactics by the media, listening and reading without discernment, over reacting to incidents is just fueling a fire and frankly is pretty irresponsible. Are people so stupid as to think after reading this article I would stop locking my doors and not take care of myself and my family??? Really? All because of one article???

posted by: HewNaven on January 15, 2016  12:19pm

This is another great effort by Data Haven. But, it’s just telling us what happened. If you’re wondering WHY there is such wide variability in perspective from one resident to the next, you’ll have to look at the report on ‘concentration of wealth and poverty’. IMO, it’s more telling than any other. And, it’s precisely why some people say #gscia and others say “nevahwen”

posted by: TheMadcap on January 15, 2016  2:04pm

Are you guys baby boomers, or older Gen Xers? Because its always them who refuse to believe the violent crime rate is down, in fact on a national level it hasn’t been this low since near the 1950s. Its like they refuse to admit their generation was actually pretty god awful in this regard and ours is pretty great because one anecdote equals data

posted by: LookOut on January 15, 2016  4:02pm

OK Everyone - nothing to see here.  Everyone is safe.  Any weapons that you may own to defend yourself should be turned in to the government immediately

posted by: robn on January 16, 2016  9:47am

Violence has been trending downward since 1994; a point I made two years ago when Yale Alderperson Sarah Eidelson proclaimed that “Youth violence and hopelessness have risen to crisis levels.” Notice that in a collegiate hotbed of liberalism she very nearly lost this past election. Mind you not to a democrat in the primary but to a declared Republican candidate. Pols should take notice. Data talks, BS walks. (Mark Abraham should get this motto printed on a t-shirt)

posted by: Mikelive on January 16, 2016  10:38am

TheMadcap- I believe the violent crime “rate” is down, I just don’t believe that violent crime is. I believe we have more thieves and weapon carrying criminals on the streets than ever. I also believe that urban police depts. are all massively underfunded to the point where they are basically cherry picking the most violent crimes and turning a blind eye on the others. I also believe that in a state like CT and a city like New Haven it would make no sense for the politicians whatsoever to tell people that things are worse.

One only has to talk to their district top cop once in a while or read about new recruits leaving town for better pay/working conditions OR the fact that the police cannot even maintain their fleet of vehicles. We have more junkies than ever on the streets these days, we have more folks living on the dole than ever, how could anyone in their right mind believe things are looking up?

posted by: KateW on January 16, 2016  8:46pm

I believe that crime is down based on attending the Dwight Central Management Team monthly meetings where the Dwight area district police officer gives a detailed report.  Dwight and West River have been practically crime free for a while now.  Yes there are some incidents, but both the NH Police officer and the Yale police officer have been reporting that many/most types of crimes are significantly lower than in the past.

posted by: yim-a on January 17, 2016  9:47am

wondering how New Haven stacks up against similar cities (population, demographics, location).  Is 44% feeling safe (56% not feeling safe) to walk alone at street at night a relatively good or bad statistic?  Also interesting to see how these numbers break down by neighborhood (east rock/westville/downtown versus fair haven/hill/dixwell).  Is 44% an average consistent throughout the city, or the middle point between vastly divergent realities (and so reflecting the growing sense of 2 cities in 1 city, similar to Newark, with improvements downtown but mostly the same in outer neighborhoods)?

posted by: RobotShlomo on January 18, 2016  11:17am

After having my car broken into twice in my driveway over the last year, I’m guessing I’d be the wrong guy to ask…

posted by: BlueDogMom on January 18, 2016  10:47pm

I would say opportunistic property crime is not decreasing. Years ago we forgot to lock our car—in our driveway on our property—it was rummaged through with charging cables and change the only valuables taken.  Just this week, forgot to lock the car again, it was rummaged through but nothing was valuable enough to steal.  Broken windows on cars parked on our street, bikes stolen out of backyards—if it is not chained up or alarmed, don’t count on it being there in the morning.  That was the New Haven I moved to years ago, and it is the same today.  I feel no safer.  The only real noticeable change has been in the local journalism.  I can not imagine an article about “somewhat’” newsworthy statistics printed a decade ago.