NEWBURGH (May 30, 2019) – The link between police spending and crime, the opioid crisis in the Hudson Valley, and the affordability predicament faced by renters are a few of the topics that Pattern for Progress delves into in its third Urban Action Agenda (UAA) report released Thursday. The report summarizes the progress made by 25 urban hubs in the region and focuses on a dozen key subjects—from infrastructure and transportation to economic development and public health—that impact these urban communities.
Started in 2016, the UAA is a multi-year initiative led by Pattern to promote the revitalization and growth of urban centers (11 cities and 14 villages) throughout the nine-county Hudson Valley region. The new report offers an overview of the work that Pattern accomplished in 2018 and early 2019, including ongoing regional initiatives, milestone events, community-specific projects and the 12 mini reports on important issues.
“We believe that the regional urban centers will play a key role in the continued revitalization of the Hudson Valley,” said Pattern President and CEO Jonathan Drapkin. “The sharing of best practices data and new policy initiatives serves to assist the management and residents of the focus communities.”
The highlights of the reports include:
- An overview of the opioid crisis that is crushing communities across the Hudson Valley, which has a higher rate of opioid-related deaths than New York state and the nation as a whole. According to New York State Department of Health data, Sullivan County led the Hudson Valley for the highest opioid overdose deaths per 100,000 residents and Ulster County had the highest incidence of emergency room visits for opioid overdose per 100,000 residents.
- The link between police spending and the crime rate. Common sense suggests that if cities reduce the number of police officers while spending less on police services, then the crime rate should rise. But an examination of crime and staffing data from the state for 12 UAA communities shows that despite fielding fewer officers and spending less money, 11 out of 12 UAA communities saw drops in index crimes reported to the FBI.
- The affordability crisis faced by renters in the Hudson Valley, which is caused by a combination of rising rents and declining median incomes. Since 2000, the median rent has risen in 24 of the 25 UAA communities while the median income of renters has dropped in all of the 25 communities when accounting for inflation. Data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development shows that majorities of renters in 22 of the UAA communities are cost burdened or severely cost burdened (paying more than 30% of their income towards rent).
- The general trend across UAA communities is a shrinking young population and an aging workforce. Between 2000 and 2017, the percentage of residents under the age of 16 decreased by 8% and the percentage of residents ages 65 to 74 who remained in the workforce grew by 37%.
The 12 briefs on the key subject areas of the UAA include: Demographic Shifts: The Aging Workforce; Economic Development: 2018 Consolidated Funding Application Awards in UAA Communities; Education: Declining Public College Enrollment; Housing: Rising Rents, Declining Income–An Affordability Crisis for Renters; Infrastructure: Housing and Urban Development Funding; Local/Regional Governance: Workers Compensation and Medical Insurance; Public Health: The Opioid Crisis in the Hudson Valley; Public Safety: Fewer Police Officers, Lower Budgets… and Less Crime?; Regional Amenities: Airbnb Boosts Visitors to the Hudson Valley; Technology: New Rochelle Offers Free Wi-Fi in its Downtown; Transportation: Westchester – A Growing Commuter Destination in the Hudson Valley; Urban Parks: Walk and Bike Scores.
The report’s conclusion features a look ahead at some initiatives and projects that will continue to advance the UAA in 2019-2020.
The full report on the Urban Action Agenda can be viewed on Pattern’s website at http://www.pattern-for-progress.org/. Pattern’s detailed Community Profiles of the 25 UAA communities can also be found at Pattern’s website.