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NHA resident needs assessment released

The Needham Department of Health and Human Services has released a comprehensive assessment of the needs of Needham Housing Authority (NHA) residents. The NHA is a valued resource in Needham, providing affordable housing to many town residents, including families, older adults, and people with disabilities.

The assessment was conducted to understand the NHA residents’ perceptions of needs, resources, and opportunities within the community. Health and Human Services staff members conducted interviews, focus groups, and a survey to engage residents in the study. Results were compiled into a report, which is available in multiple languages.

“This assessment process provided us with an opportunity to speak directly with NHA residents and learn, from their perspective, about both the positive and more challenging issues they face in the community,” said Director of Health and Human Services Timothy Muir McDonald.

The report details the residents’ perception of issues including sense of community, access to services, food access, and transportation.

“We also learned about challenges some of the residents face regarding isolation,” Senior Public Health Associate Rachael Cain said. “Some residents were concerned that they and their neighbors lack adequate social contact. We know social isolation can lead to mental health issues including depression, and we believe this is an important finding that we need to address as a community.”

The assessment also showed that approximately 75 percent of NHA residents live alone, almost 70 percent are over the age of 60, and half reported difficultly walking or climbing the stairs. Targeted resources for these residents would be beneficial.

To address such needs, NHA residents provided many practical and feasible suggestions. A major recommendation is to build on existing resources and enhance communications to advance the findings. A few of the more specific recommendations outlined in the report include: increasing on-site activities, such as health workshops; providing more services for those whose first language is not English; providing options for food purchases at the complexes; and instituting a program to provide wellness checks on seniors and people with disabilities.

“The report provides a number of common-sense recommendations,” said Chair of the Needham Board of Health Edward Cosgrove. “We should all work together to provide resources that improve the quality of life for our neighbors at the Needham Housing Authority.”

The Department of Health and Human Services encourages partners across Needham to review the report and consider what they can do to best support NHA residents.

The report can be found on the Needham Public Health Division’s website at: https://www.needhamma.gov/DocumentCenter/View/20733/Needham-Housing-Report_Final.

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