2022 Community Needs Assessment
1. What are the major data changes from baseline? (prior needs assessment)
Garfield County’s poverty rate increased by 1.1%, while Washington County’s decreased by 6.1%, and Iron County’s decreased by 1.2%; Earned Income Tax Credit jumped up from the previous year; Increase in number of families accessing TANF across all 5 counties.
2. What contributed to these changes?
Garfield County experienced a 1.1% increase in poverty level in 2020. Garfield County offers a lot of jobs that are tourism based, which stalled during COVID-19. Garfield County’s job market decreased by 1.8% in 2021.
In Washington County, there was a decrease in the poverty level due to higher work from home increased substantially, so out-of-staters could move to Washington County while maintaining their current wages.
Iron County saw a decrease in their overall poverty level by 1.2%, likely due to SUU’s implementation of their “Speedway” program offering trimesters of classes rather than semesters, therefore increasing employment opportunities throughout various departments on campus. There were also out of state, higher earning households that moved into Iron County.
Earned Income Tax Credits jumped up significantly due to federal increases to supplement during pandemic.
All five counties saw a significant increase in number of persons receiving TANF due to income loss during pandemic and resulting “shut down” of many businesses.
3. What barriers (specific to income) were made clear by the data?
Rental costs in all 5 counties exceed fair market rent amounts, making it increasingly difficult for families to save money or pay off debt as they continued living paycheck-to-paycheck.
Additional rising costs of living during the last half of 2021 impacted food, transportation, childcare costs, and other household expenses.
Mandatory closure of all schools during the initial part of the pandemic meant that working parent(s) were not able to work due to their school-age children having to be at home during virtual learning. Parents also had limited childcare options during this time. Also, limited internet access made school/working from home difficult for families.
4. What gaps in service were noted for this issue?
Seasonal Services: Our rural communities have many of the same needs as Washington and Iron Counties, however, year-round services are not offered.
Income management services: Some recipients getting 3rd party assistance during 2020 and 2021 indicated they would like help with budgeting
Lack of student supervision at home: Parents were not able to leave their children unattended at home and had no natural support(s) or community services to h
5. Are there individual/family/community unmet needs in this area
Affordable Housing: Lack of work during the initial part of the pandemic contributed to the poverty rate, exacerbated by high rental costs across the state and overall lack of affordable housing in our service areas. Over one-third of survey respondents indicated:
1- Their rent had increased within the past 2 years
2- They have received 3rd party help with rent and/or utilities
3- Their household expenses exceed their income
4- They spent their child tax credit return to pay household expenses.
Low Barrier Housing: Clients expressed an inability to secure housing due to poor credit, lack of rental history, and/or criminal backgrounds. There has also been an increase in application fees (from $25 to $100 / adult) and triple deposit requirements to secure a unit.
Budget Class: Community members surveyed expressed the need for help managing income.
6. What linkages (including partnerships) are needed to address barriers, gaps, & unmet needs?
- Care About Childcare (Within Agency)
- Local Utah Department of Workforce Services (DWS) American Jobs Centers
- Root for Kids (Early Head Start)
- Centro Hispano (Low Income Tax Clinic)
- SUU (Head Start)
- Food Pantries
- DWS – Vocational Rehabilitation
- Financial Capacity Classes – Sun Country Home Solutions
- USU Extension – Rural Online Initiative / Create Better Health
7. From reviewing the income data, what has your agency learned about the root cause of poverty in your community? (Root cause analysis described in instructions.)
Income management is a major barrier to exiting poverty for many low-income households in Southwest Utah. This is especially important as cost-of-living increases in the area for fixed-income households.
Another cause of poverty is that low-income clients are often unable to save for future needs or build assets as a result of living paycheck to paycheck. For many low-income clients, tax returns and/or economic stimulus payments were spent immediately, rather than budgeted for year-long utilization.