by Analia Del Bosque and Mayra Negrete
Like any town, Hamden, CT, an inner-ring suburb of New Haven, has both its attractors and detractors. In this post, we will elaborate on the desirability of Hamden for individuals and families deliberating a move there, looking specifically at Hamden’s patterns of residence, housing stock and value, economic state, schools, and reputation. We find that Hamden is most desirable for those who wish to live in a relatively racially diverse town with relatively lower poverty rates and who can afford private schools for their children or are willing to look past test scores.
Figure 1. Map of Hamden and surrounding towns
Patterns of Residence
Hamden’s patterns of residence demonstrate that, relative to various other suburbs surrounding New Haven, Hamden is a desirable town to live in for those individuals to whom having a more racially diverse town is important. With a population of 61,422 in 2014, Hamden is one of the most populated New Haven suburbs, and consequently might be less desirable for those who seek a smaller or more rural suburban setting. That being said, it is also one of the more racially diverse suburbs, with a 68.5% white population and 20% African American population. To be sure, within Hamden there are enclaves of neighborhoods with African American and Hispanic populations of 0%; however, these trends have been shifting over time, as Hamden is becoming more racially diverse.
Figure 2. Hamden is one New Haven’s most populated suburbs.
Figure 3. Hamden is one of New Haven’s more racially diverse suburbs, second only to West Haven in this sample.
Figure 4. Geographic maps illustrating the percentages of Blacks or African Americans living in Hamden regions in 2010 and 2014. Maps illustrate an increasing percentage of Blacks or African Americans over time.
Moreover, there is no significant correlation between African American populations and high poverty rates, suggesting that many of these families are middle class black families. Indeed, there are various neighborhoods ranging between 19% and 51% African Americans with a 0% poverty rate, as well those with 0% African American populations with higher rates of poverty. To be sure, there are some neighborhoods with both higher percentages of African Americans and higher rates of poverty, particularly along the middle southern border, where Hamden neighbors New Haven. However, overall these trends suggest that Hamden would be a desirable place for either middle or high socioeconomic status African Americans who wish to live with around other African Americans, or else other racial and ethnic groups who wish to live in less segregated areas but with minimal poverty.
Figure 5. Geographic maps illustrating the percentages of people in Hamden living in poverty compared to the percentages of Blacks or African Americans living in Hamden. These maps demonstrate that higher African American populations do not necessarily correlate with higher poverty rates.
Housing Stock and Value
Currently, there are about 330 homes for sale in Hamden, with an additional 209 that are expected to be foreclosed. Hamden’s foreclosure rate of 0.6 per 10,000 versus the 2.7 US average may suggest that homes are available at reduced prices, but that there is not a housing crisis. Moreover, Zillow.com expects Hamden home values to increase 1.8% in the coming year, suggesting that this is the right time for home-seeking individuals who can afford to buy to do so.
With a wide range of home prices to choose from, both higher and middle income individuals can find a home that fits their price range. Specifically, while the median home value is $235,600, homes are available from $49,000 for a 3 bed, 1 bath townhouse to $1,450,000 for a 4 bed, 3 bath estate. Similarly, individuals who wish to rent rather than buy may choose from rental properties ranging from $1000 to $1900 per month. However, there are less properties for rent and they are concentrated at this time in the southeastern and eastern borders of town.
Over the past several years, the economic state of Hamden has been relatively stable. While unemployment rates increased slightly from 2010 to 2014 by an average of 1.08%, Hamden’s average of 6% unemployment is comparable to its area and the national average. Similarly, between 2010 and 2014, some Hamden neighborhoods have seen slight declines in poverty, while others have seen slight increases. However, at 8.4%, the poverty rate is still lower than the 14.8% national average and than that of surrounding towns with similar racial demographics.
Figure 6. This figure illustrates that at 6%, Hamden’s unemployment rate is lower than that of the majority of neighboring suburbs and than that of the city of New Haven.
Figure 7. Hamden families living below the poverty level in 2010 and 2013. The maps illustrate both increases and decreases in percentages of families living in poverty in different regions of the suburb.
Figure 8. Graph illustrates the relatively high diversity in Hamden compared to neighboring suburbs and New Haven, along with a relatively low poverty rate.
Yelp listings suggest that Hamden’s retail is dominated by moderately priced chain stores. Yelp also suggests that food is moderately or inexpensively priced, and that there is a plethora of grocery stores for locals to shop at, catering to both higher and lower income families.
Hamden provides numerous schooling options. Hamden’s 18 public schools tend to be racially diverse, with most having increased at least 30% in minority students over the past 20 years. Yet there were two schools that had less than 15% increases. Despite this fact, Eli Whitney Technical High School’s 93.36% minority students and Spring Glen School’s 33.56% minority students illustrate the differences in diversity in Hamden schools.
Figure 9. Graph illustrating the increasing rates of minority students in Hamden’s public schools.
While the schools in Hamden have an average ranking of 4.31 out of 10, greatschools.org gives higher rankings of 6, 7 and 8 to Bear Path, Spring Glen School and West Woods School, respectively. Yet it appears that a number of Hamden families look elsewhere for schools, given that the population of Hamden schools is not representative of the town. Hamden schools were 66.14% minority in 2013 and 61.97% in 2008, whereas the town was 31.5% minority in 2010. Additionally, while between 2010 and 2014 the average number of people per household was 2.41 and the average household income was $67,771, in order for a family to qualify for free or reduced lunch their household income would have had to be below $37,167. However, there has been an increase in students who receive free or reduced lunch indicating that the students attending these schools are not the average Hamden resident.
Figure 10. Map of Hamden Public Schools
Instead, parents are likely turning to private schools or to New Haven Interdistrict Schools, which offer free transportation to Hamden residents. That being said, there are a few schools in Hamden that have received higher rankings and are performing better than state averages. Likewise, while some schools are not as highly ranked, some parents still have positive comments. One parent of Dunbar Hill School, which was ranked a 4, said “…The principal, teachers, and staff work VERY well together. There is a great caring community of families, teachers, and staff…” Additionally, while ranked a 3, Hamden High School offers 16 Advanced Placement courses and had a graduation rate of 89.1% in the 2013-2014 school year, compared to an 87% statewide graduation rate that same year. In sum, families have a variety of school options from their nearby schools to ones in the neighboring city.
While Hamden does not appear in the news too often, a currently ongoing murder investigation and missing person reports suggest that Hamden is not immune to crime. However, the demolition of the controversial “Berlin Wall” that at one point separated Hamden and a low-income New Haven public housing community points to changing sentiments regarding race and socioeconomic class. While Hamden residents initially expressed safety concerns, recent news suggests that these concerns were unfounded; in fact, recently completed road work now eases travel between Hamden and New Haven. Hamden has its share of schooling related controversies, including pushback to efforts to provide universal preschool and student data being released to the Connecticut Council for Education Reform. Nevertheless, the media has also highlighted philanthropic work within the community, including church fundraising efforts and a mayoral initiative to decrease the town’s medical expenses without compromising benefits. Therefore, like most towns, Hamden cannot be simplified as having either a “good” or “bad” reputation.
In summary, Hamden is desirable for individuals who seek a more racially diverse town that maintains lower poverty rates than other New Haven suburbs. To be sure, neighborhoods within Hamden, as in any place, can be fragmented. However, particularly for upper middle and middle class individuals seeking some racial diversity, Hamden can be thought of as a good “compromise” as one can have one of the more racially diverse neighborhoods in the area and still access homes across a wide spectrum of prices. For those with school-aged children, Hamden is desirable if one can afford to pay for private school or can secure a slot in a highly-ranked public school or New Haven Interdistrict School. Neither Hamden’s relative economic stability nor its relatively neutral reputation add or detract from its desirability.
 US Census (See Figure 2)
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 Social Explorer
 Social Explorer (See Figure 4)
 Social Explorer (See Figure 5)
 Social Explorer (See Figure 5)
 US Census
 Analysis of data collected from Social Explorer
 Towncharts.com (See Figure 6)
 Social Explorer (See Figure 7)
 US Census (See Figure 8)
 Elementary and Secondary Information System (See Figure 9)
 Elementary and Secondary Information System
 Elementary and Secondary Information System
 Analysis of data from Elementary and Secondary Information System
 US Census
 US Census
 Connecticut State Department of Education
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