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New Haven, Connecticut


Best known as the home of Yale University, New Haven is located in south central Connecticut about halfway between New York and Boston.

Founded in 1638, New Haven was once an agricultural township and, by the 20th century, a thriving port and industrial center specializing in clocks, wagons, and guns. The city suffered an economic decline with the mass exodus of the middle class to the suburbs after World War II. Similar to many industrial cities, New Haven saw steady population declines between 1960 and 2000. However, by the early 2000s, New Haven began to embrace revitalization efforts that continue to gain momentum.

Today, New Haven is one of the fastest growing cities in Connecticut. An influx of immigrants spawned rapid growth between 2000 and 2010, along with an increase in the Hispanic population. It was one of the nation’s first sanctuary cities, with laws and policies that protect undocumented persons. The city is also home to Yale University, the largest employer in the community, but also the source of occasional “town-gown” tension.

  • Overview

    Population and Demographics

    Population: 130,553

    U.S. Census Bureau; photography courtesy Flickr user Klaus Wagensonner, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

  • Context and Actions

    Community Context and Challenges

    • Compared to Yale’s immense endowment, the economic struggles, poor health outcomes, and prevalence of chronic disease among non-white populations are striking.
    • Among all residents, 26% live in poverty—more than double the state average of 11%.
    • Hispanic and Black residents have lower educational attainment than white residents; the poor physical condition of many schools may negatively impact student achievement.
    • Ranked as Connecticut’s most dangerous city, New Haven has more violent crimes compared with nearby cities.
    • Approximately 12% of residents are uninsured, with Hispanics most likely to be uninsured at 24%; despite having higher access to insurance coverage (just 10% are uninsured), Black residents are more likely to experience chronic disease.
    • Described as a “town and gown” community, the local community (town) and the academic community (gown) hold sharply differing views about the city’s interests.

    U.S. Census Bureau. (2014). 2010–2014 American Community Survey 5-year estimates.

    2015 DataHaven Community Wellbeing Survey. City of New Haven crosstabs.


    Taking Action

    Since 1997, New Haven has been forging collaborative partnerships to address key issues like chronic disease, employment and education, and overall economic stability.

    While New Haven and Yale University have waged ongoing battles over income disparities, property acquisition, and taxation, both the city and the school have been implementing independent, collaborative, and inclusive initiatives. New Haven’s government has established initiatives with cross-sector community partners that aim to improve well-being, strengthen health services, and improve the built environment. Initiatives originating from Yale have also engaged the community through cross-sector partnerships to address disparities in chronic disease, risk behaviors, education, and the built environment.

    These baseline reports, created in 2016, track community programs and initiatives in their early stages and measure initial progress only. Future reports will provide more in-depth insights and analysis into this community's efforts to build a Culture of Health.

    Town and Gown Collaboration

    Though New Haven and Yale have waged ongoing battles over income disparities, property acquisition and taxation, at the same time, independent initiatives originating from the city and Yale are characterized by collaborative partnerships and inclusion of city residents.

    New Haven City Transformation Plan

    In 2015, the city unveiled the New Haven City Transformation Plan, a 5-year blueprint that brings together a diverse group of more than 100 community partners, including nonprofit and faith-based organizations, agencies, community coalitions and residents, through a steering committee and workgroups to address eight intersecting goals identified as key priorities for the city.

    New Haven School Capital Construction Program

    The city launched the New Haven School Capital Construction Program, a 19-year construction project spanning across all grade levels from pre-K through high school. To date, the construction program has rebuilt or built 37 schools from the ground up, with a total of 45 new or renovated schools targeted through the program’s completion in 2017.

    Community Alliance for Research and Engagement

    The Yale School of Public Health created the Community Alliance for Research and Engagement (CARE). CARE engages community organizations, neighborhood associations, hospitals and health centers, city government and public schools, and others to examine social, environmental, and behavioral risk factors. CARE provides insight into and helps reverse disease trends and challenges—notably obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, asthma and cancer. 

  • Going Forward

    Questions for Consideration

    New Haven has weathered years of urban decline and renewal, and today is poised to consolidate some of the hard-won progress it has made toward greater equity across its diverse population. Opportunities for improvement remain, but it is clear that New Haven places a high priority on advancing the health and economic well-being of residents.

    Additional surveillance, data, and information gathering, analysis, and reporting will examine the extent to which New Haven’s initiatives are successful in addressing inequities in chronic disease and mitigating social and economic disparities.

    The following questions will be explored in future reports:

    • How will New Haven assess the impact of ongoing initiatives to reduce chronic disease?
    • How is New Haven measuring the impact of completed and ongoing initiatives to improve the built environment, including the Capital Construction Program for the city’s schools?
    • Have particular interventions to reduce chronic disease been particularly successful? If so, have they been widely shared throughout the community?
    • Do ongoing town-gown tensions affect New Haven’s efforts to improve health and economic well-being for its residents? If so, to what extent?
    • To what extent do the city of New Haven and Yale University coordinate efforts to address the burden of chronic disease among residents?
    • In light of the recent unsuccessful effort to levy new taxes on Yale’s endowment, what efforts are underway to improve existing relations between the city and the university?
    • How are Yale and New Haven measuring the impact of the New Haven Promise program? Has participation resulted in meaningful numbers of students graduating from 2- and 4-year colleges?
  • Downloads

    Community Snapshot Report

    Community Portrait Report

    Community Landscape Report