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.

Community Actions: A First Look

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.

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 does 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?