Data for the need’s assessment was gathered from a variety of sources. Five County Association of Governments (FCAOG) utilized information obtained by program intake, data from the Utah Department of Workforce Services (including the Annual Report on Homelessness and the Annual Report on Intergenerational Poverty), Community Action Partnership of Utah’s poverty report, and other relevant community data to guide efforts for community feedback.
Input was gathered through public forums and a community needs assessment survey. Outreach for the survey and public forums were made available to current clients (low- and moderate-income households), faith-based organizations, human services agencies and local elected officials. Volunteers engaged over 30 businesses for marketing and community participation. Social media campaigns were also utilized to gather a variety of opinions across multiple sectors.
The community needs assessment survey was open to the public from November 11, 2018 to May 20, 2019. A total of 1,033 participants completed the survey, including 14 local elected officials, 389 human services practitioners, and 365 CSBG-eligible clients. Some responses came from paper surveys from seniors and those with limited computer proficiency or access, which Five County AOG Community Action staff input manually. Throughout April, Five County Association of Governments held public forums, including a Spanish-speaking forum. Local elected officials, partner agencies, and the public participated in these forums held in all five counties and confirmed the needs.
The key findings from the surveys include lack of affordable housing, limited transportation opportunities, and low wages as major barriers to exiting poverty and working towards self-sufficiency in Southwest Utah. The key findings from the public forums include lack of affordable housing, economic development/low wages, and basic needs. However, across public, private, and low-income sectors, many believe that locally-driven solutions, better communication across local agencies, and additional community involvement and resources can improve the quality of life for all members of the region.
The results of the public forums and survey instrument were presented to the Human Services Council on May 22nd, 2019. The recommendation from the Human Services Council was to offer services and participate in initiatives that strengthen interagency coordination (links and partnerships). Participation and/or coordination of local homeless coordinating committees, intergenerational poverty committees, mobility management councils, asset-building coalitions, youth services committees, and other related local bodies is a high priority.
Outreach for the Community Needs Assessment
Beaver City Community Assessment Forum
10 April 2019
Beaver City Hall
Facilitated by; Toni Tuipulotu and April Merrill
Introduction of Community Action and Block Grant. How we go about finding needs of the counties. Assessment came up with 9 pressing needs. Those in attendances chose their top three
Transportation: Volunteers needed to drive Seniors to appointments. Senior voucher program. If they use the buses, they can’t use vouchers. Not enough volunteers willing to drive the Senior Buses out of town appointments/shopping. Can’t even commit to one day a month. How can we get drivers paid? Senior Center Director is overwhelmed with all she needs to do. Have you talked to Jay Aguilar? Yes, but never quite get an answer. Seniors are going without their medical appointments because of lack of drivers.
Basic Needs: Senior Center wants to serve more than 3 meals a week.
Food Pantries…there are grants that pay for specific things but if pantries don’t get all three grants, the whole thing fails. The Food Pantries in Beaver and Milford are truly hurting. CSBG grant is not a good fit due to result motivated. CSBG requires 125% poverty. Pantries just want to serve food. CAP wants to help food pantries. We have thought of beefing up fund raising. No grants for salaries, pantries will close. Milford $450 a month for rent. Beaver is $45 for dumpster. No room in Beaver to house the entire county.
Economic Development/JOBS: Too much income is spent on housing. Income does conducive to housing. USU has introduced ideas of getting remote jobs/computer jobs you can do from home which will bring money into the County. Don’t necessarily need more education but people would need to manage time. Beaver county has 90% HS graduates but then education drops off from there. Jobs don’t pay. Many jobs are taken by those who come from a different county or people have to drive far for jobs. We do have a gas voucher program. Is this something that could help this community? Change the once a life time rule, to more money yearly. This is a reimbursement program but could really help this community. We would need to find a way to market it and let people know. Most People in the community have to get their mail at the post office so we could market it there. Through the School District. Main jobs in county: government, school district, Smithfield. The Mine is no reliable and doesn’t employ many. Wind Farms and Solar Farms not making as much money as when they first came to county. 2-1-1 is a program that also needs to be marketed. 211 Utah.org. People are coming to the county to live but coming without jobs and or resources. CSBG is on a Self-Reliant Model. How has this service helped?
Health Care: One counselor in the area. No one to help with youth 4th grade on up. Depression, cutters, etc. Low income families can’t afford online therapist, etc. Intergenerational Poverty Committee Plans? Education was the main focus. Committee to re-group and assess.
Family Supports: Lost funding for the after-school program. Talk about bringing in a Family Coach. Discussed the Circle Program. Education on finances will help all these areas.
Kanab Public Forum
Housing and Utilities: housing shortage
Transportation: seniors need help with transportation to medical appointments. They go to St. George. (the medical facilities suck). Medical gas vouchers through Jay Aguilar, one woman used it. The paper work took too long, and the woman figured it wasn’t worth it. RSVP also has a voucher but has paper work nightmare too. Write for an IHC grant to help support the pantries, to support the nutrition program. Health and Nutrition go together. TFAP Grants help buy food and buy needs like containers and roof. Food Pantry has a walk-in freezer that needs a cover, currently it is outdoors and in the elements. Jobs – for every primary job, there are two secondary jobs. Veer away from tourism, more long-term jobs. Most people are underpaid and underemployed. Have to double up. Seniors that live in trailers with no power/electricity. Does Weatherization service only work if person owns the home? Will they help those that rent? Brenda at HEAT to help refer them to Weatherization. Family Friends and BLM are biggest employers.
Healthcare: Really bad in Kane County. Most people go to St. George. One member at forum was misdiagnosed three times and almost died. Board voted against IHC. lnsurance…you have to work full time to get insurance. Doctors will take whatever insurance the person has.
Child Care: Don’t have any approved child cares. Neighbor and Friends program. People can’t pay for child care.
Emergency Services: Hoping to hire some EMT’s to help cover emergencies when the Dr. and hospital isn’t.
Income Management: they want to learn but not willing to put in the time to learn. The “Church” offers a class but not very successful. It is like giving away the dry beans at the food pantry. No one wants them because they take too long to use. Even with the “cookers” that show individuals how to cook using the food in the pantry. Most people don’t want them.
Facebook: Share what we learned from the comments on there.
Two individuals attended forum. Each given 3 sticky notes and 9 choices of needs.
Housing: 2 sticky notes
Economic Development/Jobs: 2 sticky notes
Emergency Services: 1 sticky note
Family Supports: 1 sticky note.
Cedar City Community Assessment Forum
April 10, 2019 6:00 pm
Five County Association of Government Bldg.
Housing and Utilities: State Legislator passed bill for low income housing. Cities must choose three things they need help with and then federal money will be given. First time Presidential Candidates are talking about affordable housing. Affordable housing defined as apartments and building houses that people can pay for with the lower wages. Not all the community understand there are not enough subsidy housing for people. Income bases housing have a criminal background and credit check and our clients can’t get in due to that. Rent is high. Not enough Senior affordable housing. Aging population is increasing so there is a greater need coming up. Community member mentioned there is a Sr Living affordable unit coming to Cedar city based on income. Once the client get into low income housing, is there an evaluation yearly to see if they still qualified? CSBG has deposit assistance program but we do not find the housing for them. Need more apartments but the council doesn’t want new apartments. What about casitas? There is a need for long term housing for those with Mental Illness. Waiting lists for places in SLC that are income bases. DSPD services. If you don’t have family to fight for you…. there are no placements. Attendees talked together about ideas for housing for those with mental health. This leads to the lack of Mental Health Care! How do people know what CSBG grant covers: Deposit Assistance, HEAT, gas voucher, Homeless
Housing. Call 2-1-1
How do people know we have services?
Are there food pantries? Care and Share. Hope church. LDS church. TLC. Food Pantries are supplemental to Food Stamps. If you need food, you will get food.
Low wages, high housing costs. Financial education. If people are willing to do what it takes and have income management. This does not always work…especially for single parents. There is a huge diversity in jobs…it is either Construction or Food Service are the main jobs, very diverse in wages. Education leads to jobs. Telecommuting isa new job if you have the right education. Financial management was one of the top 4 needs three years ago. Five Counties put in time and energy to classes and such, but no one attended. An attendee at the forum came to offer his services for financial classes. Talked with Cindy at 5 counties in Cedar City. We live in a time where employees want more money for less work. Employers also need to take responsibility for training employees what they should do for the pay. SUU is educating many people but most of that education leads to students leaving once they have their education. Keeping students as employees is a catch 22. Intergenerational Poverty, those who live in intergenerational poverty assume that is what everyone does. My family has assistance so everyone else must too. We need to check our perception. There are hidden class rules. Poverty rules verses Middle Class rules. In Cedar City, there is a lack of middle class. Economic Development can also be affected by Infrastructure. The issue is parent and children issue. We must teach and figure out solutions on both ends of the spectrum. Intergenerational Poverty council has agreed to start teaching programs at the middle school level to change the pattern of poverty. Iron County Plan to teach about financial management. Iron County Plan. Belief that there are people in the community that would be willing to help teach about money management, loans, budget, etc.
Transportation: The transportation is not working. There isn’t even a bus that goes to Enoch, which is a huge outlying city. A lot of evening activities but no transportation to those events, especially seniors.
Kindergarten half day, no bus to take them to child care when their parents work. No one is writing the grants for transportation. There is the space on the bus but the rules dictate they can’t pick someone up if they don’t fit into the foundries. The heart of the problem, is the tax payers money, what is on the ballots. Community member willing to set up financial seminars. Sent out poll on Facebook. There are a lot of grants available, people just must apply. How do we know what grants are available? A community member is a reporter in Cedar City and is willing to report on items. City Council Elections are coming up, be sure and be invested and vote on them. Housing, jobs and family support are the top needs of Iron County.
Each person was given 3 sticky notes with 9 choices of pressing needs in the community. Each attendee was asked to place a sticky where they felt the most important needs are.
Housing: 6 sticky notes
Transportation: 3 sticky notes
Basic Necessities/Food/Nutrition: 5 sticky notes
Health Care: 4 sticky notes
Community Development/Infrastructure: 3 sticky notes
St George Community forum
April 22, 2019 7:00 Washington county Library
The one person who attended was a minister from a new church in town.
Transportation: bus routes are limited and take a long time to get somewhere.
Income Management: people don’t know how to manage their money
JOBS- Not enough jobs. Low wages. This is a Right to Work State. A lot of competitiveness with employers. Individuals shop around for jobs. Employers don’t treat employees well, using the “right to work state” to their advantage in a negative way.
Housing: Very limited. Affordable rentals are limited. Switchpoint is building a unit (52) that will be designated to veterans and those fleeing domestic violence. Five County has grant to help with deposit assistance and utility deposit. The number one phone call we get is for help with rent, in a unit they are already in. It would be good to help with that, to keep individuals housed.
Basic Needs; food, shelter, jobs
Town and county Bank teach a Dave Ramsey finance class. Those that we paid for 2/5 success. Do educated persons budget money better?
Gas Vouchers, we have a reimbursement program, used for employment only. Seniors can also get a reimbursement for gas used, if they have no other transportation options. Not just for medical reasons only but can help with all living needs that has to do with transportation. An application process is used, first come first serve.
Food Pantry: lost money from grants and we are always looking for ideas to keep them going. There is a lot of food insecurity. Back packs with food are sent home each week end from some schools.
How do people learn about the programs that are out there? Mostly word of mouth and referrals from our Partners.
What does Homelessness look like mt St. George? Different “levels” of homelessness. Schools have their own definition and help with that. HUD definitions; Domestic Violence, living in a Shelter, a place not meant for habitation, RVS with no power and utilities, if they were in jail and have no place to go. Couch Surfing with friends and family does not count.
Switchpoint: can be turned away due to criminal background.
An Attendee said that he sees St. George as a community that wants to hide our homeless or ship them off, so no one can see them.
Homeless camps…are there for a reason. They do not want to help with Human Service Providers/Government. People often don’t want services because they do not want to follow the rules of the program. About 200/200,000 people are homeless in our area. Housing is the number one need in the area. Many homes have multiple families in them. Homeless people who want to be housed…I think we should house them. However, there are some who don’t want the responsibility of paying rent, so that is different.
How much does Education play a part in jobs/wages/homeless. Education is important but isn’t always the main factor in finding employment and wages. Construction is the highest growing field in the area with a good wage.
Intergenerational Poverty Council: Issues that will help and teach families that living with state services is not a way of life, however that is what families are teaching. The council is to come up with ideas of how to get “off’ services. Washington County has the rapid rehousing program and the circles program, both teach those in poverty to rethink their “rules” (ex. I am going to quit my job because I am losing my childcare. No, you don’t quit your job, you find a way to make it work.)
Washington County Spanish-speaking Public Forum
Date: April 22, 2019
Location: St. George Public Library/Tres Amigos Market
NOTE: due to no attendance at St. George Public Library, Luis and Diana Escobar (volunteer) gathered “sticky note” results by standing outside of Tres Amigos Market on bluff street (with permission from management) and asked willing participants entering the store for their input on public needs that were important to them. They were each asked to pick the 3 most pressing needs to them and rate them with sticky notes on the board. Afterwards, each participant was giving a demographics info survey to fill out.
• Housing and Utilities (Vivienda y Utilidades): 7 votes
• Transportation (Transporte): 4 votes
• Basic Needs/Food Pantries (Necesidades Basicas/Bancos de Cornida): 2 votes
• Economic Development/Jobs [Desarrollo Economico (trabajos)]: 0 votes
• Com mu nity Development/Infrastructure [Desarrollo Corn unitario (infraestructura)]: 2 votes
• Healthcare [Asistencia Medico (Healthcare)]: 3 votes
• Income Management (Gestion de Ingresos): 1 vote
• Emergency Services (Servicios de Emergencia): 1 vote
• Family Supports (Apoyos Farniliares): 3 votes
2 individuals specifically commented on the lack of housing availability in St. George more specifically the lack of affordable rental units/apartments.
1 person spoke about their issue with public transportation in St. George mentioning the bus route schedule and bus route coverage.
Some mentioned lack of knowledge of certain assistance resources such as housing and food assistance programs.
Most participants, when asked why they chose the needs they did as most important, did not have any further comments other than the importance of them. This is due to a culture in the Hispanic population of fear of speaking out, especially regarding government due to the political climate regarding immigration in the US.
A few people entering the Tres Amigos Market refused to participate in the questionnaire, but the majority of people took the time to give their input. This showed that even though nobody showed up to the public forum, people in the Hispanic community care about their community and are willing to give their thoughts if they feel a sense of safety when sharing their thoughts.
Priority #1: Housing
Based on the data collected in the community needs assessment and feedback by various Five County AOG staff and community partners, housing was identified as the greatest priority in Southwest Utah. With average wages in our area being lower than the state average, and the rapidly increasing prices of homes and rentals, lack of affordable housing has the potential to disrupt communities, increase homelessness, and create family instability. Some families relocate further away from employment and community resources in order to obtain more affordable housing. This creates additional transportation burdens. Some housing barriers are often tied to income management and credit scores. As part of our community level work, financial education will be offered to people who want to clean up their credit report and work on budgeting in order to become homeowners (in affordable home ownership programs like Rural Development, Habitat for Humanity, Self Help Homes, and Sun Country Home Solutions). Five County Community Action offers financial education classes to community members to increase the number of asset resources to the community. Some of the attendees at the financial education classes are through Habitat for Humanity, Rapid Rehousing, and Root for Kids. In order to help individual households that are renters stabilize better when they move into an affordable rental with the FCAOG deposit assistance program, Five County may offer several months of full or partial rent, along with other services Five County offers to clients. In addition to the utility deposit program, Five County will also collaborate with the HEAT program and other community partners to offer a water assistance program, even when the household receives HEAT assistance. Currently, HEAT does not offer water assistance to clients, so this would fill a gap to help stabilize people in their housing.
Priority #2: Employment
Based on the data collected in the community needs assessment and feedback by various Five County AOG staff and community partners, employment was identified as the second greatest priority in Southwest Utah. Five County AOG can best support employment through transportation, housing, and educational efforts. This is generally reflected in the community needs assessment. It will continue to use other AOG services as a link to employment resources. As an agency, we will support infrastructure to increase internet speeds for telecommuting purposes.
Priority #3: Use of Income
Based on the data collected in the community needs assessment and feedback by various Five County AOG staff and community partners, income management was prioritized as the third greatest need overall. Local elected officials identified this issues area as the most important area. The reason this was ranked third instead of first in prioritization is due to the evidences presented around “housing first.” Although the model pertains to homeless individuals, Five County staff determined that housing stability is still applicable to those living in poverty who are not homeless. Five County will provide VITA services and financial education courses as methods of creating more financial stability. This is included in employment support program and housing supports, which address both individual / family level work as well as community level work.
Priority #4: Nutrition
Emergency services, including food boxes, was not indicated to be as high a priority as it has been in the past. Increases in Older Americans Act resources and partnership with the Utah Food Bank may be reasons for the increase in nutrition services. In rural areas like Milford, Escalante, Big Water, Orderville, and Hurricane, where no local DWS office is present, pantries provide a needed link to DWS one-stop services. Data from the Community Needs Assessment also indicates long-term pantry users who are on fixed income or “stuck” in low-paying jobs, do not receive individualized assessments on an annual basis, which may be remedied by case work through food pantries. Five County AOG will keep food pantry locations and utilize them as a case management tool to increase self-sufficiency and will look for additional non-CSBG resources to support pantry operations.
Priority #5: Education
Based on data collected in the community needs assessment survey, clients and practitioners generally felt educational needs were being met. However, the data collected in the community needs assessment show the region lags the state in overall post-high school education. Based on rankings from local elected officials, discussions with economic development practitioners, and data collected by the Intergenerational Poverty Commission, education will be prioritized higher than expected. In the past, Five County AOG has supported GED obtainment and vocational training. As resources for these services increases, Five County will prioritize early childhood education, youth programs which encourage college-readiness, and support to continuing education students finishing certificates (to fill gaps or support WIOA and TANF efforts of Utah Department of Workforce Services). These prioritizations align more closely with needs mentioned in the Intergenerational Poverty Report. In the strategic plan, we want to increase non-CSBG funding or find another home for the Youth Volunteer Corps (YVC) program.
Priority #6: Transportation
Based on the data collected in the community needs assessment and feedback by various Five County AOG staff, community partners, and the Five County Mobility Management Council, transportation was identified as the fifth most pressing issue to address. This was partly determined due to the interconnectivity of housing and transportation. Five County AOG will provide direct services (bus passes, client travel training, and gas vouchers) and subcontract / coordinate with human service transportation agencies and businesses which will help alleviate childcare, employment and educational barriers.
Priority #7: Health
Five County AOG will participate in the social determinants of health efforts, however, services in coordination with Family Health Care, Intermountain Health Care, Wayne County Clinic (Garfield County), Doctor’s Volunteer Clinic, and other providers will tie directly into outcomes in the housing and employments domains. This may include employment counseling with those with mental health disorders (Southwest Behavioral Health Center may be losing TANF funding) and Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) vouchers with Family Healthcare.