Survey shows north country concerned about housing, childcare, food costs

Published: May. 4, 2023 at 5:19 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - Food security, housing, recreation, senior community centers, and childcare are among the top issues for north country residents.

The Center for Community Studies at Jefferson Community College conducted its second annual North Country Current Issues survey in April of 1,402 adult residents in the tri-county region.

That includes 646 from Jefferson County, 347 from Lewis County, and 409 from St. Lawrence County.

High food prices remain a challenge to north country families. Many residents use or plan to use food pantries, farmers markets, or home gardens to offset costs.

Residents report they’re dissatisfied with both rental properties and the availability of homes to buy. Many are also concerned with the needs of the homeless. In a question specific to Lewis County, 49% said they would not support a homeless shelter in their neighborhood, compared with 40% who said they would.

As far as recreation is concerned, 58% support a proposed 500,000-square-foot multi-use event center near Watertown, and more than 70% are in favor of further developing recreational use of the Black River.

Fifty-six percent of Jefferson County residents say the city of Watertown should renovate the Flynn Pool on the city’s north side. Most also say the city should keep its newly acquired golf course as a golf course and not convert it to parkland.

Here are a few other takeaways:

  • Seventy percent of Lewis County residents favor using former railroad beds for walking, hiking, or biking, while 55% say they should be used for ATVs and snowmobiles.
  • By seven to one, north country residents say their county should support a senior community center.
  • Adults overwhelmingly favor employer-provided childcare support. Eighty percent agree that jobs that include childcare-related support are more attractive to employees.

See the survey results here