Central Office Research and Background
Throughout the year, DREAM collected data and information on why it is imperative not only that DREAM exist, but that it expand. We discovered an incredible lack of quantitative data on Vermont families living in housing developments that was surprising and frustrating. However, we were able to extrapolate by conducting some of our own information-gathering. The magnitude of need for DREAM’s mentoring partnerships can be demonstrated both by the size of the target populations, and by the level of un-met need of those populations. DREAM’s primary targets are children in family-based housing developments in Vermont where 100% of tenants are designated low or very-low income and receive federal subsidies towards rent. The children DREAM reaches face a host of related risk factors beyond economic disadvantage, including unstable family environments, low levels of supervision, risk-taking peer groups, exposure to increasing drug traffic, low academic performance, and lack of access to resources. The DREAM Program is the only youth organization in the state that specializes in serving this population.
Size of Population in Need Within Vermont, there are 7,819 apartment units designated for low to very-low income families (families that earn less than 50% or 30% of adjusted median income, respectively). These units represent 2.7% Key Indicators Based on data from the Annie Casey Foundation and from of total housing units in a state with a 9.7% poverty The DREAM Program, Inc. rate. A significant portion of the state’s poorest 100 families are concentrated in subsidized housing 90 80 developments. 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0
Percent of Percent of Percent of children living children living children living in families in poverty in singlewhere no parent National parent has families Vermont full-time, Templeton year-round employment
Percent of children with a household head who is a high school dropout
Factors of Risk and Need for Children in Vermont’s Low-Income Communities The concentration of poverty within subsidized housing developments alone indicates a high level of un-met need for children in the developments. However, poverty is highly correlated with additional risk factors for children and a lack of resources to address those risks. The Annie Casey Foundation has identified four risk categories; children living in families with any three or more of the factors are considered to be at ‘high-risk’ of “suffering negative outcomes (such as dropping out of high school, getting arrested, or having a baby) before reaching adulthood.”
The Templeton Court Apartments were the site of the first DREAM Program, and are representative of the communities with which DREAM partners. The above graph compares Templeton with state and national averages along the four indicators of high risk identified by the Annie Casey Foundation. As of November 2001, Templeton children were nearly 10 times more likely than average children to live in a household headed by someone who had not graduated from high school and more than twice as likely to live in families that lacked stable employment. Throughout the state, 12% of children were living in poverty, compared to 93% of children at Templeton.
The vast majority of children at Templeton and other subsidized housing developments live in families with three or more of the risk factors. Furthermore, these children’s level of risk is compounded by the spatial isolation of the development and reinforced by the fact that the peers of both children and parents suffer the same characteristic. 31
Published on Aug 26, 2012