Monday, July 29, 2013

FINDINGS: Somerville Immigrant Needs Assessment Survey Report

Somerville Immigrant Needs Assessment Survey Report

The Office of Somerville Commissions collaborated with many organizations to reach out to Somerville immigrants in 2012. The purpose of the survey was to find the top needs of immigrants, learn the ways people connect to find out important information, and find the various languages spoken by Somerville residents. Hundreds of surveys were distributed, 43 surveys were completed in English (33%) and Portuguese (30%) along with Haitian Creole (21%) and Spanish (16%). There are many different language skills of the survey participants including:
44% speak Portuguese
44% speak Haitian Creole
24% speak French
12% speak Spanish
3% speak Bengali
3% speak Hindi
3% speak German
3% speak Bambara
3% speak Newari
3% speak American Sign Language

Based on the data provided by survey participants collected in 2012, Somerville immigrants’ top three priorities listed by participants were (1) schools & after-school programs, (2) children & youth programs, and (3) family support & information. It is evident that the greatest priorities held by immigrant residents of Somerville revolve around children (in regards to both schools and after-school programs) and the family unit in general. The top prioritized needs immigrants want to keep themselves and family healthy and safe are (1) finding more work/job support, (2) schools & programs for children, and (3) family welfare & education. While children and family opportunities are important, immigrants also want support to find a job or more work.

Almost 60% of responding immigrants have not used the City’s 3-1-1 service. The low number of participants who admitted to having used the 3-1-1 service provided by the City of Somerville indicates that this resource can be much better publicized to residents. Given that one third of participants were not even aware that this service existed, it is evident that advertising the 3-1-1 system would be a productive goal and project for the City of Somerville. The top three sources for information of participants were (1) friends, (2) school, and (3) local agencies. These results show that local immigrants do not use City of Somerville resources or posted signs for opportunities but acquire their information regarding Somerville from friends, their children’s schools, and local agencies.

Report Written and Data Prepared by Kiersten Ellefsen
Report Graphics and Design Prepared by Sonja Darai
Project Designed & Supervised by Sonja Darai


Kiersten Ellefsen, Tufts University Undergraduate Intern

o Massachusetts Alliance for Portuguese Speakers (MAPS)
o The Argenziano School
o Mystic Learning Center
o Haitian Coalition

Somerville Agencies and City of Somerville Departments who received surveys for this project
 Elizabeth Peabody House
 Centro Presente
 Council on Aging
 Catholic Charities/St. Patrick’s Shelter
 The Family Center
 Haitian Coalition
 Somerville Housing Authority
 Welcome Project
 Mystic Learning Center
 Argenziano

The report and survey is a project of the Office of Somerville Commissions, a program of the Health Department in the City of Somerville.  For more information, contact the OSC at 617-625-6600 (x2400) or

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