Hartford CT

Most people, when they think of Hartford CT, probably think of insurance companies and assume Hartford is a mostly prosperous town. Well, if you’re an insurance company maybe it is, but the class divide in Hartford is gaping and getting worse.

Hartford has a staggering poverty rate, made worse by the frequent propensity of major businesses to move from Hartford to nearby prosperous suburbs. Such moves are devastating to Hartford in large part because there are no counties with governing power in Connecticut, and thus no way to spread resources around at a regional level. If an insurance company moves from Hartford to Bloomfield, Bloomfield gets all the revenue and Hartford loses every penny of it. If there were functioning counties, Hartford would get some remediation. But there aren’t.

Consider these statistics:

As of 2000, Hartford had both the lowest per capita income (pdf) and and highest poverty rate (pdf) of any town in Connecticut – while Connecticut itself has the highest per capita income of any state.

As of 2004 (xls) 54% of children live with a single parent. Ethnically, it’s 38% African-American and 40% Latino, mostly Puerto Rican.

Staggeringly, at least one in six Hartford children has one or both parents in prison. Families in Crisis, a Hartford-based organization, works with the families of the incarcerated.

Sadly though, the City of Hartford remains comatose about all of this. As an example, in a recent remarkably bone-headed move, the City floated a plan to drastically increase already nose-bleed level property taxes to even higher levels for small businesses on major streets. Gee, what a swell idea, drive the little shop owners out, that’ll really help the fabric of the city. Did I mention that the same plan also would decrease property taxes for large businesses? Yet more proof, if any be needed, of the gaping class divide in Hartford.