The Adirondack Explorer/Adirondack Almanack is partnering with Adirondack Foundation to shine a light on unmet needs in the region as well as highlight promising efforts to address them. This special series was inspired by the Foundation’s 2019 report “Meeting the Needs of Adirondack Communities.” To learn more, visit adirondackfoundation.org/
From the report’s introduction:
The needs and barriers across the Adirondack region are real. And the solutions are not always obvious. The percentage of families who earn too much to qualify for public assistance but not enough to make ends meet has grown dramatically in recent years. There’s a critical shortage of child care providers, which can make it difficult for parents to commit to full time employment or advance their careers. Meanwhile access to public transportation and safe, affordable housing in the region is limited.
Even as the elderly population grows—by 2030 nearly 30% of the region’s residents will be over the age of 60—the number of home health care aides is plummeting. Social workers are often overwhelmed and unable to provide mental health care treatment and support in a timely manner. Treatment and recovery options for those struggling with opioid addiction and other substance abuse disorders are not as robust as they need to be. The ripple effects of the opioid epidemic in particular have led to strains on the foster care system and other social services. Taken together these barriers can stymie economic development and impede pathways to educational opportunity.
Over the course of the next couple of decades, addressing these needs will be essential to the overall health, wellbeing, and vitality of communities in the North Country. Philanthropy alone cannot solve these problems and government funding will continue to play a crucial role in service delivery and program development. But public funding and private investment together can amplify the impact and reach of a nonprofit agency, community organization, or new pilot program.
Social service agencies, nonprofits, and community organizations, often with limited resources and staff, are developing solutions and innovative programs designed to meet the needs of area residents.
This report has two purposes: (1) to identify the key unmet needs in the region and areas where the social safety net is falling short and (2) to highlight existing efforts, new initiatives, and pilot programs seeking to improve access to services and quality of life in the region.
Based on more than 70 interviews with social service providers, community leaders, nonprofits, and residents, the Adirondack Foundation’s report identified the following broad areas as critical needs and opportunities for long-term growth:
- Support Working Families
- Expand Affordable Housing and Rental Options
- Increase Opportunities for Professional Skills Development and Workforce Training
- Improve Transportation Networks
- Provide Options for Drug Addiction Treatment, Recovery, and Prevention
- Develop Support Networks for an Aging Population
- Create Pathways to Post Secondary Education
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be diving into those seven topics.