Survey finds some JP residents struggling

July 6, 2012
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The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (JPNDC), a community development corporation based on Amory Street, recently conducted a survey that found some residents are still struggling despite the Great Recession officially ending in 2009.

Richard Thal, executive director of JPNDC, said the organization surveyed about 250 residents in the Hyde and Jackson Squares areas and near the Brewery complex on Amory Street. The survey, which was conducted between March and May and was not scientific or representative, found 45 percent of households have a member who has been unemployed or underemployed within the past year.

“That was very striking,” said Thal.

Thal said that from the talks JPNDC had with residents while conducting the survey, it seems to be a common situation for workers to have had hours cut back.

“That makes it really hard to make ends meet,” he said.

The survey also found that 34 percent of households surveyed do not earn enough to cover expenses.

“I think it says a lot of people are struggling in the neighborhood,” said Thal. “Even though many think of JP as a prosperous neighborhood, there are thousands of families struggling.”

Another area of concern for surveyed residents is unaffordable rents, with 29 percent placing it the highest among the most important issues in the neighborhood. Thal said JPNDC heard many stories of people seeing their rent go up a few hundred dollars.

“That’s a huge challenge for people,” said Thal.

Thal said JPNDC has a committee that will look at the data collected and that the survey will help guide future work. He said the Family Prosperity Initiative, a new JPNDC program aimed at teaching families how to manage their finances, is one area that will be responsive to the survey.

Asked if there are plans to conduct another survey, Thal responded maybe in a couple years and that “it’s always valuable to go out and talk to people.”

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