HCP Completes Study Pinpointing Needs for Community Development within Pinellas County Community

LEALMAN, Fla. (June 4, 2014) HCP & Associates recently completed a study of Lealman, an unincorporated community within Pinellas County, on behalf of the Pinellas County Health & Community Services Department. The goal of this study was to gauge community needs and capture current sentiment within the Lealman region.

At the beginning of March, the Health & Community Services Department approached HCP about conducting a study of Lealman residents. This was prompted by a report that the department published back in 2012, titled The Economic Impact of Poverty. This report brought attention to the cost of poverty in Pinellas County ($2.5 billion annually) as a result of reduced productivity and lesser economic input into the community, by those residing in low-income households.

The analysis studied the county at large, and evaluated it for various contributing factors to poverty: access to transportation, food and health care; quality of resident health; education level; presence of crime; unemployment rates and availability of affordable housing. This analysis helped to pinpoint five regions throughout the County that were labeled “At-Risk Zones” that had higher concentrations of poverty than the County as a whole. One of these indicated zones was Lealman.

With the county unable to allocate funds to all five zones, the Health & Community Services Department opted to focus efforts on Lealman, which was more significantly impacted (compared to the other zones) during budget cuts over the past several years. Significant job cuts in the area additionally impacted the financial standing of Lealman residents. According to the US Census, the Lealman median household income is $33,741, compared to the County median income of $46,051.

HCP was tasked with developing a baseline study of Lealman community data. The research team coordinated with department staff, Lealman business owners, leaders at organizations serving Lealman, and the Lealman Community Association to complete a series of stakeholder interviews. During these interviews, the individuals shared their perceptions of the current Lealman and vision for the future. The semi-structured interviews gave rise to the development of a telephonic questionnaire that would capture baseline sentiment held by a random sampling of Lealman residents prior to the launch of any community development activities.

The team shared the data with Health & Community Services Department leadership and results will be presented in a work session format with the department in the coming weeks. The telephonic interviews as well as the stakeholder discussions will be repeated in a post-test study, to show residential sentiment before and after County efforts, within a two year span.

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