Financial Security

While in many ways, MetroWest is a high-income region with much wealth, people in areas throughout the region struggle to make ends meet. The high cost of living, extremely expensive housing and myriad difficulties with transportation combine to put a financially secure lifestyle out of reach for many residents of MetroWest.

While the region’s overall poverty rate of 8% is below the state and nation, rates are higher in both Framingham (10%) and Waltham (11%) and rates are higher among Hispanic (22%) and African American (16%) residents. Education matters: while 21% of residents without a high school diploma had incomes at or below the poverty level, just 4% of those with at least a bachelor’s degree did.

And others living above the poverty threshold struggle to make ends meet. While the overall median household income in MetroWest was $89,000 in 2014-18, median incomes for Hispanic and African American households were substantially lower at $52,000 and $59,000.

A living wage in MetroWest requires $78,600 for a family of four with two earners or $73,000 for a family of three with one earner, certainly out of reach for many of our residents.

Federal food assistance is needed at a high level among some populations. In 2014-18, 26% of Hispanic residents and 20% of African Americans participated in the federal SNAP program, higher than Asian (9%) and white (7%) residents.

And people of color in MetroWest (as well as the state and nation) have less access to financial services. Unbanked or underbanked rates in the three MetroWest counties are roughly 30-40% among Hispanic and African Americans.

Homeownership is an important factor for neighborhood stability and civic participation and, in 2014-18, the homeownership rate in the MetroWest region was 65%, exceeding both the state and national rates. However, while rates were 68% among whites and 58% among Asians, they were 35% for African Americans and 31% for Hispanics.

Owning a home is simply out of reach for many residents of MetroWest. The ratio of home value to median income was 4.5 in 2014-18, well above the 2-3 range considered affordable. It is even higher in some communities, including Lincoln and Weston, where the ratio was 7.1 and 6.7, respectively. Rent, too, is unaffordable in some communities, including Walpole, Holliston & Needham, which all had rates over 40%, above the 30% considered affordable.

Homelessness is a growing concern in MetroWest. While the rate has declined a bit from a high in 2014, it was up 45% since 2007, with 6,200 homeless people counted during the annual tally in January in 2018.

Early Prenatal Care by Mother's Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Children Living in Poverty Increasing
Children Living in Poverty, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Single-Parent Families Increasing
Single-Parent Families by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Disengaged Youth Decreasing
Reports of Domestic Violence Maintaining
Arts, Entertainment and Recreation Establishments Increasing
Households Without Vehicles Maintaining
Means of Transportation to Work Not Applicable
Average Travel Time to Work Increasing
Households With Internet Access Not Applicable
Voter Participation Rate Decreasing
Average Charitable Contribution Maintaining
Protected Land Not Applicable
Drug Poisoning Mortality Rate Increasing
Crimes Against People Decreasing
Incarceration Rates, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Change in Total Population Increasing
Change in Population by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Foreign-Born Population Increasing
Language Diversity Increasing
Population by Age Not Applicable
Change in Population by Age/Gender Not Applicable
Seniors Living Alone Decreasing
People with Disabilities Maintaining
Change in Total Jobs by Sector Not Applicable
Unemployment Rate Maintaining
Average Salary by Sector Not Applicable
High-Tech Jobs Decreasing
Female to Male Earnings Ratio Maintaining
Prekindergarten Participation Increasing
Student Performance on Grade 3 English, by Student Subgroup Not Applicable
Chronically Absent Students Decreasing
High School Cohort Graduation Rate by Student Group Increasing
Education Levels of Adults Not Applicable
Education Levels of Adults, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
People Living in Poverty Increasing
People Living in Poverty, by Education Level Not Applicable
People Living in Poverty, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Household Receiving Temporary Assistance Maintaining
Participation in Food Assistance by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Median Household Income Maintaining
Median Household Income, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Living Wage Not Applicable
80/20 Income Ratio Maintaining
Access to Financial Services, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Homeownership Rates Increasing
Homeownership Rates, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Cost of Homeownership Increasing
Cost of Rent Not Applicable
Homelessness Increasing