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NEWS

QCAP survey asks residents about needs in the community

QUINCY — One of the city’s largest service organizations is asking residents to tell them about needs they see in the community, from inability to afford housing to discrimination issues and access to basic needs like food and heat.

Quincy Community Action Programs, known as QCAP, is soliciting input through an online survey through the end of February. The survey collects basic demographic information, but the responder otherwise remains anonymous when answering questions about the top needs impacting themselves and their community.

“We want to make sure we are hearing from the entire low income community,” said Beth Ann Strollo, CEO of the organization. “There are many people who may be eligible for our programs who don’t come to us for whatever reason, so we’re looking at input from both people who are and aren’t our clients.”

The survey is part of a larger community assessment that QCAP completes every three years, a requirement of the federal community service block grant that provides part of the organization’s funding. In addition to the survey — which QCAP hopes will get 500 responses this year — the group also does small focus groups, analyzes demographic data, talks with community leaders and uses research on national trends.

“It’s all so valuable to us,” Strollo said. “While it sometimes gives us new information, it also often reinforces the trends and what we see happening when we’re delivering services.”

Over the last several years, Strollo said five major needs have stayed at the top of residents’ list of concerns: being able to afford housing; paying for child care and early education; the cost of basic needs like food, heat and health care; knowing how to manage finances; and workforce development or job training.

This year’s data won’t be tabulated until March, she said, but she expects to see housing remain at the top of the list. She also said Quincy, and communities across the state, are dealing with something called the “cliff affect,” which comes as a result of a higher minimum wage.

“The cliff effect is when someone’s income increases and they aren’t eligible for certain programs anymore, but they also aren’t making enough to be financially independent,” she said.

Strollo said the cliff effect hits when a small wage increases pushes someone over eligibility for programs like daycare assistance, and they lose their childcare voucher. While that voucher may have been paying for $5,000 in annual daycare costs, it’s unlikely that the person’s income went up $5,000.

“It’s particularly a concern right now with the increase of minimum wage – which is a good thing – but it’s not keeping up with the costs of housing, healthcare and child care,” she said. “Those increases in wages are great, but they aren’t enough to give people financial independence.”

The survey can be found at surveymonkey.com/r/qcapHOME.

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