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“Stronger as a community”: New Haven residents, officials praise increased diversity shown in census

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New Haven grew from 129,779 people to 134,023 over the decade, according to the census data, with Hispanic and Latino residents becoming the largest racial and ethnic group in the city.

That’s a 3.3 percent growth rate, which outstripped the rest of Connecticut. As a whole, the state grew by 0.9 percent from 2010 to 2020 — the fourth-lowest rate nationwide — and now boasts 3,608,298 residents.

The city now is roughly 30.6 percent Hispanic or Latino residents, 30.4 percent Black residents, 27.6 percent white residents and 6.7 Asian residents, not counting people of multiple races or ethnic backgrounds, according to the census data.

In 2010, it was about 33.4 percent Black residents, 31.8 percent white residents, 27.4 percent Hispanic or Latino residents and 4.5 percent Asian residents.

Matos said she was not surprised by the results. Recent administrations, she said, had made “embracing diversity, celebrating our differences and making our city a welcoming city” a priority.

When she and her husband were looking for a place to call home in 2001, she said, they were attracted to the economic and racial diversity of the city, settling in Fair Haven.

It was an appropriate place to raise their son, of Black and Puerto Rican descent, and be a part of a rich community, she said.

“What you see when you drive down Grand Avenue is the result of a welcoming community,” said Matos, noting the array of businesses and nationalities represented on the street..

The Latino population — people from Mexico, Guatamala, Puerto Rico and Ecuador, among other countries, Matos said — added to the fabric of life in New Haven over the course of the past decade.

She noted cultural examples — PRU is hosting music and dancing in Criscuolo Park Saturday; there’s an annual Ecuadorian festival — the chance for economic opportunity, and the efforts of many immigrants during the coronavirus pandemic, as they were disproportionately likely to work front-line jobs and expose themselves to the virus.

Mayor Justin Elicker said it was exciting to see the city’s growth, particularly in its diversity. He noted the increase in the number of Asian residents — there now are 9,044 Asian residents of New Haven, up from 5,864 in 2010 — as well as the rise in the Latino population, which he noted mirrored a national trend.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Hispanic or Latino population across the nation grew 23 percent in the last decade, while the population that was not of Hispanic or Latino origin grew 4.3 percent.

The majority of students in New Haven schools are now Latino, Elicker noted, speaking to the importance of bilingual education in the coming years.

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Lugo and Megan Fountain, also of Unidad Latina en Acción, also spoke to the importance of broadening efforts to include Latino and Hispanic residents in the city.

“It’s a call for the city of New Haven … to include all these new people,” said Lugo.

Among other priorities, the organization had suggested implementing wage theft protections, revitalizing the Elm City Resident Card program, enhancing bilingual and dual-language programs and support for immigrant students, affirming New Haven’s nature as an immigrant-friendly city, and adding more teachers of color to Elicker’s transition team, Fountain noted.

Lugo said he was not surprised to see Latino and Hispanic people become the largest racial and ethnic group in New Haven, given the number of Latino students in the school system and the pattern of change in the past, which has seen other groups come to the fore in the city.

Having the data, he said, drove home the importance of organizing to ensure that the voices of the diverse Latino community are represented in city politics.

Elicker on Friday noted he was returning from a press conference with U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Chris George, executive director of Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services, about the importance of protecting refugees.

He said he takes pride in the welcoming nature of the city. The diversity, he said, allows residents to grow in character, as they consider different perspectives and backgrounds.

“That makes us stronger as a community,” said Elicker. “That allows us to be exposed to new ideas.”

william.lambert@hearstmediact.com

This content was originally published here.

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