County Disparities Evident in Report on Housing, Food Insecurity

Five of Connecticut’s eight counties, on average, do better than the nation when it comes to the percentage of residents living in housing with substandard conditions, and the percentage who pay more than 50% of their annual income on housing.  The other three counties exceed the national average in these key housing cost and quality metrics, according to data compiled by Salud America.

The analysis also reveals that in four of the state’s counties, the percentage of people living more than 1/2 mile from the nearest supermarket or large grocery store exceeds the national average, that Fairfield and New Haven counties have a higher percentage of fast food restaurants than the nationwide average, and in four counties – New Haven, Hartford, New London and Windham – more than 10% of households are food insecure, defined as being unable to meet food needs during at least 7 months of the year.


The Salud America! "Health Equity Report Card" report data shows how counties across the country compare in housing, transportation, poverty, healthcare, mental health, environmental issues, and access to healthy food and active spaces.  While the data points to significant differences in the obstacles generally; facing Latino residents as compared with the non-Latino white population across Connecticut’s counties, it also provides a glimpse of overall differences between the counties.

Among Connecticut’s largest municipalities by population, Bridgeport, Stamford, Norwalk, and Danbury  are in Fairfield County; New Haven and Waterbury are in New Haven County; Hartford, and New Britain are in Hartford County.



In Fairfield County, 39.65% of housing units have one or more substandard conditions (lacking complete plumbing facilities, lacking complete kitchen facilities, with 1.01 or more occupants per room, and housing cost burden among renters and owners). In New Haven County, it stands at 37.57%.  The statewide percentage is slightly lower, 35.4%; the U.S. average is lower still, at 32.99%. 

In Hartford County, 33.46% live in housing units with one or more substandard condition, according to the analysis.  Below the statewide average, New London County is 32.8%, Windham County 32.64%, Litchfield County 31.38%, Middlesex County 30.5%, and Tolland County 29.1%.

In Fairfield County, 19.15%, and in New Haven County, 17.81%, of people are categorized as severely cost-burdened regarding their housing, meaning they pay more than 50% of their annual income on housing.  Here again, those regions exceed both the state and national levels – 16.39% and 14.64% respectively.  Hartford County falls between the state and national averages, at 15.32%, New London County 13.9%, Windham County 13.69%, Litchfield County 13.65%, Middesex County 12.9%, Tolland County 12.31%,


In New Haven County, 30.12% of the population has low food access, defined as living more than 1/2 mile from the nearest supermarket, supercenter, or large grocery store. That compares 29.83% in Fairfield County, 27.8% in Hartford County, 29.8% statewide and a 22.4% average nationwide.


The percentages are higher in three counties: New London County is 41.7%, Middlesex County 37.4%, and Tolland County 36.63%. Litchfield County’s rate is 22.54%. Windham County’s rate is half that of New Haven County, at 14.3%.

Across New Haven county, 12.1% of households are food insecure (unable to meet food needs during at least 7 months of the year). That compares with 11.5% in Hartford County and 11.2% in New London County.  In Windham County it is 11%, Middlesex County 9.7%, Tolland County it is 9.6%, Fairfield County 9.4%, Litchfield County 9.3%.

Fairfield County (7.9%) and New Haven County (7.83) are also reported to have a higher percentage of fast food restaurants per 10,000 population than the state (7.09%) and U.S (7.61%).  The percentage in Hartford County is slightly below the state and national average.  New London County (7.37%) exceeds the statewide average; Middlesex County is somewhat lower, at 6.34%, Windham County and Litchfield County 5.4%, Tolland County only 4.19%,

The analysis also delves into a number of other categories, including socio-economic factors, schools, transportation, environment, health care, and physical and mental health.

Salud America! is a national Latino-focused organization that creates culturally relevant and research-based stories and tools to inspire people to drive healthy changes to policies, systems, and environments for Latino children and families.

The network is a project of the Institute for Health Promotion Research (IHPR) at UT Health San Antonio.