Data collection for the NA2020 took place within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, resurgence of racial justice protests in response to police violence against Black men and women, and the polarized rhetoric surrounding the 2020 presidential election. Illuminated by the pandemic, awareness of inequality grew across the country and it was also apparent in interviews with Greenwich community members. Many interviewees talked about the diversity of Greenwich as an asset that often goes overlooked. However, interviewees also noted the persistence and spatial concentration of inequalities along socio-economic and racial lines. The following pages take a deeper dive into these facets of inequality.
Special Topics – Equality
Special Topics – Affordable Housing
Over two-thirds of Greenwich adults have a bachelor’s degree or advanced degrees such as M.A., J.D., M.D., or Ph.D. Byram, Chickahominy, South Center, Pemberwick and Glenville are the neighborhoods where the share of the population holding a four-year degree or higher falls below that of the town overall. This special concentration conveys a significant educational attainment gap between higher and lower income neighborhoods. This is consistent with national data that conveys a correlation between higher levels of educational attainment, income, and wealth. Compared to peer communities, the share of the Greenwich population that holds a high school diploma or less is greater.
Many interviewees talked about the diversity of Greenwich as an asset that often goes overlooked. However, interviewees also noted the persistence and spatial concentration of inequalities (e.g., educational attainment, income, food security) along socio-economic and racial lines. This is most notable in the Byram, Chickahominy and South Center neighborhoods. Forty-three percent (43%) of Greenwich’s Hispanic residents live in these three neighborhoods and a few census block groups within them have a majority non-White population.
Greenwich is home to some of the highest-income people in the United States. The average household income in Greenwich is $248,792, more than triple the average household income in the U.S. ($70,883) and more than double the average in Connecticut ($94, 306). While there are neighborhoods with far less income, there are no extensive poverty neighborhoods as there are in Connecticut’s larger cities such as Bridgeport, Norwalk, and Stamford.
Income inequality in town has a spatial component, with the neighborhoods of Byram, Chickahominy and South Center all having higher concentrations of lower income residents. These neighborhoods also have higher concentrations of non-White residents. The per capita income of White households in Greenwich is $105,336, which is significantly higher than that of Black ($39,825) and Hispanic ($68,131) households.
Interviewees were concerned about how this concentration of relative poverty could contribute to gaps in academic achievement and opportunity and the subsequent differences in life outcomes.
More than half of Greenwich residents are employed in managerial professions, no surprise given its proximity to Stamford, CT and New York City. The share of the working population employed in the fields of sales, service, transportation and construction are considerably lower and vary widely across Greenwich neighborhoods. The spatial themes discussed throughout this report are reflected in this variable as well: Byram and Chickahominy have higher concentrations of residents employed in lower-wage industries, while North Center, Old Greenwich and Riverside have higher concentrations of residents employed in higher-wage industries.
Special Topics – Affordable Housing
Affordable housing emerged as an important theme in the survey and the interviews. Only 5% of Greenwich housing stock qualifies as affordable, short of the 10% mandated by the State of CT. The housing affordability challenge is a complex problem: high cost, limited space, policy, political polarization, zoning regulations, and strong feelings about maintaining Greenwich’s character were among the factors that contribute to the complexity of this issue, according to interviewees.
Many people who want to live in Greenwich do not have the financial resources to qualify for a mortgage or cannot afford to rent. Of those who live in Greenwich, many spend a significant portion of their income on housing costs. The problem of the housing burden is particularly acute in lower income neighborhoods. Lack of affordable housing impacts essential town employees. According to the 2019 Plan for Conservation and Development (2019 PODC), 17% of full-time and 23% of part-time Town of Greenwich (TOG) employees live in Greenwich, while 60% of all TOG employees live outside of town. Likewise, 22% of full-time and 18% of part-time Board of Education (BOE) employees live in town, while 60% of all BOE employees live outside of Greenwich.
Interviewees acknowledged innovative approaches Greenwich has made to increase quality affordable housing. Greenwich Communities, for example, has taken a holistic approach to affordable housing, engaging partners to provide healthcare, childcare, and economic sustainability programming for residents. The 2019 PODC outlines a diverse set of recommendations to address affordable housing over the next 10 years, and a related Housing Task Force is developing a multipronged approach to increasing housing diversity. This includes gap financing for the Housing Authority, the creation of a housing development fund (potentially seeded by public and private money), and reconsideration of existing regulations for accessory apartments with an eye to greater flexibility. Given how intricately housing intersects with other community issues, including education and public health, interviewees emphasized the need to view affordable housing as an asset to the health of the community overall.
Residential Housing Types
Single-family homes predominate in large areas of Greenwich zoned for residential housing. However, the share of this kind of housing in Greenwich is lower than in its peer communities.
Greenwich Communities, formerly the Greenwich Housing Authority, oversees over 1,200 affordable housing units, including the 343 Section 8 housing units that it administers. The rest of the units and 40 beds at Parsonage Cottage, all with waiting lists, are owned and managed directly. Most affordable housing units are in Central and Western Greenwich, neighborhoods that have become popular places to live, making it increasingly difficult for Greenwich Communities to compete with private developers.
Simplified Residential Zoning
Single-family homes in areas with two- or four-acre zoning are among the highest priced in Fairfield County, Connecticut, and the country. Residential zoning determines the concentration of rental housing along Route 1.
Ownership and Rental Costs for Housing
Single-family homes in some areas of Greenwich are among the most expensive in the country. As the remaining dashboards in this section demonstrate, the type of housing varies dramatically between neighborhoods, as does the mix of owner-occupied and renter-occupied. Many families make enormous financial sacrifices to live in Greenwich, both for a single-family home or for rental housing. Residents who provide essential services such as town employees, Greenwich Hospital employees, public and private school teachers, retail store employees and restaurant workers can rarely afford to live in Greenwich or have very limited options for doing so. These limited options come with prohibitive costs; significant shares of renters and homeowners with outstanding mortgages in town pay more than 40% of their income towards maintaining their housing in Greenwich.
Owner-Occupied vs. Renter-Occupied – Neighborhoods
The town is comprised of a wide range of home values, with a higher concentration of large, single-family homes north of the Merritt Parkway and along Long Island Sound, and over 7,000 rental units in the neighborhoods along the Route 1 corridor. African American and Hispanic residents with lower income, who primarily rent, live in Byram, Chickahominy, and South Center.