Hartford Area Habitat for Humanity is an organization that works in Hartford County, Connecticut (soon to expand to Tolland County) that builds and refurbishes high-quality yet affordable homes with the goal of increasing homeownership rates while promoting self-sufficiency (source). Since the chapter began in 1989, Hartford Area Habitat for Humanity has built or refurbished a total of 265 homes. Between 1989 and 2018, they have served over 300 families, and continue to serve the area with a goal of helping 50 families a year (source). Habitat makes homeownership affordable because they are able to provide a 0% interest rate mortgage (source).
Our group worked with this organization’s data to investigate the question “In what types of neighborhoods is Habitat for Humanity Hartford Area building homes?” This question is relevant to the work that Habitat does because building homes that people are happy with is important to Habitat. In 2020 Hartford Area Habitat for Humanity published the Reflective Report on the Impact of Homeownership. Among the findings were statistics on how residents felt about their neighborhood. For example, “19% said that safety was one of the things that they liked best about their neighborhood while 32% said that safety was one of the things that they liked least” (source). The fact that Habitat is reporting on this information shows that they care about more than just the quality of the homes themselves.
Habitat Homes by Opportunity Index
Our first neighborhood criteria that we looked at was the Open Communities Alliance’s Opportunity Index. The Opportunity Index is a measure of how opportunity rich or how opportunity isolated communities across Connecticut are (source). The OCA formed this index by evaluating nine indicators of opportunity for each census tract in Connecticut (source). The darker the color of the region, the more opportunity is said to come with being in that region.
Figure 1 | click here to view the map on the Open Communities Alliance website.
We matched the OCA’s opportunity index data with our data of where Habitat homes are located and created a chart to visualize our findings. What we found was that the large majority (86%) of Habitat homes have been built in census tracts labeled as “Very Low” opportunity areas, although a few Habitat homes were built in “Moderate” and “Very High” opportunity areas, as shown in Figure 2.
Figure 2 | Link to Interactive Chart
Habitat Homes by Income Level
The second neighborhood criteria that we looked at was income level. First, we gathered median household income data from Social Explorer using the American Community Survey data from 2015-2019. We then decided to create a histogram to visualize the distribution and concentration of median household income in Hartford County. We used this chart to logically separate income into three categories: low-income, middle-income, and high-income to allow a simplistic yet effective visualization of the economic spread of neighborhoods. We categorized this data by the criteria that average household income is less than $50k a year would be considered “low-Income,” average household income between $50k and $100k would be considered “middle-Income,” and average household income above $100k would be considered “high-Income” and calculated the percentage of Habitat homes in each income-based category.
Figure 3 | Link to Interactive Chart
This data gives necessary information about the socio-economic context of the locations of homes built by Habitat for Humanity in Hartford and Tolland County. What we discovered was that the large majority (92%) of Habitat homes have been built in neighborhoods that we considered to be in “low-income” census tracts.