Community Needs Assessment of Allentown Sample Paper

Community Needs Assessment of Allentown Sample Paper

Description of the Community


Allentown stands on an extensive tract of land that was originally hunting grounds for Native Americans. A council of tribal leaders consented to vend the land to the sons of William Penn in exchange for an array of goods consisting of items such as articles of clothing, tobacco pipes and looking glasses (Haurer, 1902). In 1811, the city was recognized as a municipality and named Northampton. The name then transformed to Allentown on April 16,1938, after its founder, William Allen. Allentown is also renowned as the site for the hiding of the Liberty Bell during the American Revolutionary war.

Allentown community is predominantly urban. As per the 2019 Census results, the Allentown population was 100 % urban, 0% suburban and 0% rural (Rodden & Weighill, 2020).

Location, Topographical Features and Climate

Allentown is situated in Pennsylvania County, on the west banks of Lehigh River and the mouths of Jordan and the Little Lehigh creeks. Neighboring counties are Carbon County, Bucks County, Montgomery County, Berks, Schuylkill and Northampton (Kieber-Emmons, Topmiller & Carrozza, 2020). Lehigh Valley is bounded by Appalachian mountain range, Blue Mountains and South Mountain. Allentown experiences a humid continental climate, whose warmest month is July, with an average of 8 days of rain on the same month. The city experiences warm, humid and wet summers and very cold winters. Throughout the year, the weather is partly cloudy.

  1. B) Boundaries and Area in square miles

Allentown city spans 18 square miles, 17.8 miles being land while 0.2 miles is water. The boundaries are the Jordan Creek and the tributary, Little Lehigh Creek.

  1. C) Environment

The city has efficient sanitation with a reliable water supply, sewage, garbage and trash services. Lehigh County Authority provides clean water and sewerage services to residents and businesses within Allentown (Kieber-Emmons, Topmiller & Carrozza, 2020). The organization is public and non-profit. Garbage and trash services are handled by a variety of companies, including Advanced Disposal, waste Collection Services, Republic Services and Mid Atlantic Waste Systems.

  1. D) Housing

The rate of home ownership is at 40.8%, while that of renting is 59.2%, with 38.4% of the married renting houses while 61.6% own houses. 35 % of single males own houses while 65% of single males live in rentals. 23 % of single females own houses while 77 % rent (Rodden & Weighill, 2020).  34.4 % of non-family persons cohabiting together own houses whereas 65.6% rent houses.

  1. E) Leading Industries and Occupations

Employment opportunities are vast, spanning from health services, teaching, hospitality and hotelier, Opera housing, agriculture, court houses and manufacturing industries (Kieber-Emmons, Topmiller & Carrozza, 2020). Majority of the community members work at wire mills, foundries, furnaces, silk mills, boiler works, fire brick, building bricks, flour mills, planning mills, furniture factories and oil refineries.

III) The People of Allentown Community

  1. Population Profile

Allentown has a population of 121 252 by 2020 Census. This figure represents a growth rate of 2 % from the last Census that recorded 118 032 in 2010. The city attained its highest population in 2018, recording 121 537. The city extends over an area of 18 miles, and the population density is 6 910 people per square mile. Geographical mobility in Allentown is as follows: about 13 % of the population has migrated within the last one year (Kieber-Emmons, Topmiller & Carrozza, 2020). Of the 13 %, 7 % are from the same county, 3 % from a different county, 2 % from a different state and 1 % from abroad. The rate of geographical mobility is about 10 % higher in the Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ Metro Area at 11.7%. It is also relatively higher than in Pennsylvania that stands at 12.5%. Types of family/household are as follows all households total to 42 245, married households are 13 924, while non family households are 15 191. Female households are 9 454 whereas male households are 3 676.

  1. Biological Considerations

The population of Allentown is 51.12 % female and 48.88 % male, with the values 61 814 and 59 101 respectively. By age, about 4 600 females and 4 600 males are below 1 year old, 4 400 males and 4 300 females are between 1 year and 5 years while 4 900 males and 3 900 females are aged between 5 years and 10 years (Kieber-Emmons, Topmiller & Carrozza, 2020). 4900 males and 5200 females are aged between 10 years and 15 years, 4900 males and 5300 females between 15 years and 20 years and 4800 males and 5300 females are aged between 20 years and 25 years. 5000 males and 4400 females are between 25 and 30 years old, 3800 males and 3 800 females are between 30 and 35 years, 3500 males and 3300 females are between 35 and 40 years, 3000 males and 3700 females are between 40 and 45 years while 3300 males and 3 600 females are between 45 and 50 years. 3500 males and 3300 females are between 50 and 55 years old, 2600 males and 2700 females are between 55 and 60 years, 2100 males and 2300 females are aged between 60 years and 65 years while 1 400 males and 2000 females are between 65 and 70 years. 912 males and 1100 females are between 70 years and 75 years while 667 males and 1400 females are between 75 years and 80 years.

Allentown community is a racially diverse population comprising of seven racial categories. 62.28 %, 14.74 %,14.67 %. 4.61%, 2.87%, 0.72% and 0.11% of the population are White, African American, some other race, two or more races, Asian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, respectively (Kieber-Emmons, Topmiller & Carrozza, 2020). Thus Whites are 75302, African Americans 17825, some other race 17737, two or more races 5580, Asians 3465, Alaska Natives 871 and Pacific Islanders 135.

The general fertility rate between ages 15 and 44 years is 60.7 per 1000 females. The birth rate between ages 15 and 19 years is 19.8, between ages 20 and 24 years is 70.9, between 25 and 29 years is 104, between 30 and 34 years is 105.2, between 35 and 39 years is 49.3 while between 40 and 44 years is 10.1 per 1000 females (Kieber-Emmons, Topmiller & Carrozza, 2020). The crude death rate is 716.7 per 100 000. 149.6 deaths per 100 000 are due to heart disease, 151 deaths per 100 000 are due to cancer, 54.3 per 100 000 due to accidents, 31.2 per 100 000 due to cerebrovascular diseases, 28.9 per 100 000 due to chronic lower respiratory diseases and 26.2 per 100 000 due to Alzheimer’s disease. 19.3 deaths per 100 000 are due to diabetes mellitus, 12.6 per 100 000 due to nephritis, nephritic syndrome and nephrosis, 10.8 per 100 000 due to influenza and pneumonia and 12.2 per 100 000 due to septicemia. 463 deaths per 100 000 are aged between 10 and 19 years, 504 between 20 and 24 years, 636 between 25 to 34 years, 718 between 35 to 44 years, 812 between 45 to 54 years, 869 between 55 to 64 years 901 between 65 to 74 years 940 between 75 to 84 years and 882 above 85 years. The maternal mortality rate was 14.0 per 100 000 live births. The infant mortality rate is 6.0 per 1 000 live births, representing a decline from 6.5 per 1000 live births in 2015.

23.0 per 100 000 people have campylobacter infection, 2.5 per 100 000 have chicken pox, 472.4 per 100 000 have Chlamydia while   5.3 per 100 000 have giardiasis. 91.4 per 100 000 have gonorrhea, 9.1 per 100 000 have hepatitis B, 68 per 100 000 have  lyme disease whereas 30.2 out of 100 000 have pertussis (Mahan, 2009). 3.2 per 100 000 have primary or secondary syphilis, 16.4 per 100 000 have salmonellosis, 3.0 per 100 000 have shigellosis whereas 1.1 per 100 000 have tuberculosis.

  1. Psychological Considerations

Allentown was founded in1762 by James Allen, the first settlement having been done in 1751 along the west banks of Lehigh River. Notable historic events include the Civil War of 1861 to 1865, commemorated by a beautiful monument of Soldiers and Sailors on the Monument Square, previously known as the Centre Square (Haurer, 1902). Between 1840 and 1850, residents of Allentown witnessed additional notable historic occurrences, especially the failure of the Northampton Bank in 1843 and the great fire of 1848. Owing to the profound socioeconomic changes brought by the catastrophic events, the period is referred to as the disastrous decade, whose implications for the city remain unforgotten. The disasters fuelled the residents to engage with more vigor into nation-building activities, enabling Allentown to spring back magically into economic growth.

The future employment growth rate is predicted at 23.8 % for the next 10 years, a figure that is lower than the United States average of 33.5 %. Allentown is expected to grow economically, judging by engagements with the County of Pennsylvania (Kieber-Emmons, Topmiller & Carrozza, 2020). Capital is being diverted from the general treasury of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in a tax-distribution arrangement referred to as the Neighborhood Improvement Zone (NIZ). The NIZ divers all local taxes and non-property state taxes within a specified 130-acre area to fund development within the area. The zone under development lies within the city center and along the west bank of Lehigh River. The NIZ enables the taxes to be recycled locally within Allentown, instead of presenting them at Harrisburg. The NIZ allows developers to source their capital for building Allentown’s downtown from their neighborhoods, culminating in developers leasing the spaces at lower rates than normally feasible, attracting businesses and tenants that would be discouraged by the normal high rates. Thus NIZ revitalized economic development in Allentown, benefiting the entire state of Pennsylvania.

Formal communication network in the community comprise of radio stations, television channels, newspapers and journals. Informal communication consists of roadside billboards, social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter; and periodical magazines. Allentown boasts of over 35 popular FM radio stations and 26 renowned television stations. The premier newspaper in English was Lehigh Central in 1817 (Rodden & Weighill, 2020). Lehigh Bulletin was established in 1837 and transformed to Democrat. Other newspapers include Daily News, Daily Herald, The Bugle, The Evening Telegram and The Allentonian.

Allentown’s homicide rate averages at about 6 deaths per 100 000 residents whereas the suicide rate is 17 per 100 000 within a ten-year period (Rodden & Weighill, 2020). These figures suggest that an Allentonian is three times more likely to kill himself/herself than being killed by another person. The high suicide rates call for keen attention and action from the federal and state government. Whereas twice as much Allentonians die from suicide than from HIV/AIDS, the latter has more publicity than the former.

Residents of Allentown enjoy robust protective services, beginning with the Adult Protective Services Law, enacted in 2010 that protects adults aged between 18 years and 59 years with physical or mental disabilities. The APS Law is Act 70 of 2010 that encompasses a program which detects, prevents, reduces and eliminates abuse, exploitation, neglect or abandonment among the adults in need (Hamidi & Joseph, 2019). The program trains citizens to identify common signs of abuse that include weight loss, bruises or broken bones, memory loss, social isolation, personality changes, changes in banking habits and giving away assets inclusive of property or money. Also, the hotline is working 24 hours and report may be made by the person or on behalf of the adult. The Lehigh County Children and Youth Services protects children from abuse and neglect (Hamidi & Joseph, 2019). Nonetheless, residents report of inefficiency in the services. For instance, a mother complained that they neglected the needs of abused children. Another resident remarked that the agency takes for truth all information derived from teenagers, without corroborating with information from parents, exposing the agencies to manipulation by the teenagers.

The major source of stress among Allentown residents is poverty. Poverty contributes to lack of an affordable and stable housing and challenges in finding healthy choices of food (Hamidi & Joseph, 2019). Residents also reported the lack of opportunity as another leading source of stress, culminating from inadequate chances of employment or insufficient training. Other community members feel that the lack of support is a stressing factor, since it leads to absence of strong social connections that are key to successful human societies. Challenges of raising a family also contribute to stress, for instance, day care costs are always increasing whereas reported cases of violence is schools are rising.

  1. Sociocultural Considerations: The Community As a Social System

The average income per family is $56 842 and the overall poverty rate is 25.70%, with the male poverty rate at 23.61% and the female poverty rate at 27.71% (Rodden & Weighill, 2020). 94.81% of Islanders live below the poverty level while 10.62% of Asians live below the poverty level. 32.03% of men are unemployed while 48.88% of females are unemployed. Employment opportunities are vast, spanning from health services, teaching, hospitality and hotelier, Opera housing, agriculture, court houses and manufacturing industries. Majority of the community members work at wire mills, foundries, furnaces, silk mills, boiler works, fire brick, building bricks, flour mills, planning mills, furniture factories and oil refineries (Haurer, 1902). About 8.5% of the city’s community goes into retirement per decade. The number of retired persons is expected to increase, owing immigrants intending to make Lehigh Valley their retirement home. Experts project about 1 000 000 people will make Lehigh Valley their retirement home by 2040.

52.85% of Allentown residents are sole English speakers, whereas 47.15% speak other languages. The largest non-English language spoken is Spanish, utilized by 40.10% of Allentonians (Kieber-Emmons, Topmiller & Carrozza, 2020). Whites have the highest rate of high school graduation at 87.99% while Asians have the highest rate of bachelors degree at 37.14%. 8.63% of the population have attained less than the 9th grade, 12.35% have attained between 9th grade and 12th grade, 38.01% are high school graduates while 18.33% have attended some college. 7.42% have an Associates degree, 9.60% have a Bachelor’s degree while 5.66% have a Graduate degree.

48.2% of community members are religiously unaffiliated while 51.2% are religiously affiliated. Christians are 48.7%, comprising of Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Mainline Protestants, Evangelical Protestants, Black Protestants, Latter-Day Saints and Unitarian Universalist (Kieber-Emmons, Topmiller & Carrozza, 2020). Jews comprise of 0.7%, with the categories of Conservative Jews, Reform Jews or Orthodox Jews. Muslims make 1.7% of the population while other religions make 1.7%.

Allentown has a married percentage of 47%, which is ranked the largest marriage rate in Pennsylvania (Rodden & Weighill, 2020). The divorce rate is at 5%.

  1. Government and Leadership

Allentown is governed by the City Council, chaired by the Mayor. Government meetings happen at the City Council chambers on the 1st Floor of City Hall, 425 Hamilton Street, Allentown. The City Council has a President, Vice President, and 5 Council persons. The Vice President is appointed while the President is elected (Rodden & Weighill, 2020). The current President is Councilman Julio A. Guridy. The Departments and Bureaus are Building Standards and Safety, Community and Economic Development, EMS Paramedics, Finance, Fire, Health, Human Resources, Parks and Recreation, Planning and Zoning, Police, Public Works, Purchasing, Recycling and Solid Waste and Streets. The working hours are 8.00 am to 4.30 pm during weekdays. The offices are accessible to Allentonians during the working hours.

  1. Education

Allentown has over 21 best performing public schools, such as Veritas Academy, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart High School, Jefferson Elementary School, Washington Elementary School and Union Terrace Elementary School. Private schools in the city include Moravian Academy, Allentown Central Catholic High School, Bethlehem Catholic High School, River Valley Waldorf School, Notre Dame High School and Faith Christian School (Rodden & Weighill, 2020). The City also has more than 8 libraries accessible to the public, including Allentown Public Library, Cressman Library, Lehigh County Law Library, Trexler Memorial Library at Muhlenberg College, Little Free Library of Glenwood St, Emmaus Public Library, Scott Andrew Trexler II Library, Parkland Community Library, and Little Free Library of Calvary.

Services for special groups include school based teen parent/pregnant teen programs that meet the unique needs and challenges of pregnant teens or parenting students. For adults with special needs, institutions that cater for their challenges and requirements include BrightStar Care Lehigh Valley, NAACP of Allentown, School of Rock, Sylvan Learning of Allentown, Catholic Charities, Berman, Access Services and My Smart Hands (Kieber-Emmons, Topmiller & Carrozza, 2020). For children or adults who are developmentally impaired, institutions offering special services are Community Services for Children, Easterseals Eastern Pennsylvania, Via of the Lehigh Valley-Cedar Crest, Lehigh Count Children & Youth, Lehigh Valley Center for Independent Living, the Cuddle Zone Learning Center, Lehigh County Aging, Head Start, The Arc of Lehigh & Northampton Counties, Holcomb Behavioral Health Systems, Allentown YMCA and Executive Education Academy Charter School. Special services and programs for children and adults who are blind or deaf include Carbon Lehigh Intermediate, Arts Academy Charter Middle School, Allentown School District, Pennsylvania School for the Deaf and Salisbury Township School District.

  1. Transportation

The transport systems in Allentown include roads, railroads, air and water. Road transport comprises of limousine service (luxury), medical transport service, bus charters, and international bus lines (Rodden & Weighill, 2020). Railroads connect the city to New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Buffalo and the Coal region while electric roads connect Allentown to Bethlehem, Bangor, Catasauqua, Coplay, Easton, Egypt, Emmaus, Hellertown, Nazareth, Slatington and Siegfried.

  1. Behavioral Considerations

48.1% of Allentonians report of a healthy diet according to the daily nutritional requirement by FDA. 20.8 % of consumed food products in a month are milk, while only 3.5% of Allentonians eat meals prepared away from home (Hamidi, 1902). 1.9 % of consumed foods is from fast foods or pizza place in a week, 1.9% is ready to eat foods in a month, while 3.5% is frozen meal in a month.

  1. Health System Considerations

Allentown has an extensive system of health services, comprising of over 114 clinics offering general and specialized care. Examples of healthcare providers are LVHN Comprehensive Health Services, Omni Health Services, Extended Family Care of Allentown, Allentown Health Bureau and Lehigh Valley Home Care-Allentown. The healthcare providers are accessible to patients for twenty-four hours, seven days a week, with fully functional emergency dial numbers. The emergency dials are toll-free.

An assessment of the health services reveals a better population health, characterized by declining incidence rates and prevalence rates of various diseases within the last decade. Also, Allentown has less health imbalance and inequity with better health care quality. The overall better population health has culminated in less expenditure in healthcare. Allentown health delivery system lacks services for the mentally ill. Clients complain that mentally ill patients would be held at the emergency department for up to 72 hours, without being shaved, bathed, clothed or fed regularly (Wlazelek & Cleaveland, 2017). When confronted about the deplorable situation, Lehigh Valley stated that the challenges result from the sudden reduction in number of psychiatric beds in various hospitals and paucity of community psychiatric services.

The predominant overuse of health services in Allentown is prescribing antibiotics for ear infections in children, despite the evidence that the infections resolve within three days in absence of antibiotics. Also, MRI are overused, regardless of their minimal role in changing the treatment prescribed or the patient’s outcome (Kieber-Emmons, Topmiller & Carrozza, 2020). Overuse of MRI is costly to the patient and the hospital. Underuse of health services in Allentown is also evident in that only one in 20 women is getting an annual breast cancer screening mammogram, whereas regular mammograms are linked to a lower risk of death from breast cancer. While vaccination for pneumonia would prevent over 10 000 deaths, only 56 out of 100 adults at 65 years and above receive vaccination for pneumonia within a year.

Healthcare in Allentown is financed by the City’s budget. Additional institutions offering financial assistance to patients include Lehigh Valley Health Network and Crestmark Healthcare Financing.


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  • Haurer, J. (1902). The History of Allentown City. Lehigh Valley History.
  • Kieber-Emmons, A. M., Topmiller, M., & Carrozza, M. A. (2020). Population mapping for quality improvement in a neighborhood health center. The Annals of Family Medicine18(4), 374-374.
  • Mahan, J. L. (2009). Pennsylvania Infectious Disease Surveillance Summary Report, 2007.
  • Rodden, J., & Weighill, T. (2020). Political Geography and Representation: A Case Study of Districting in Pennsylvania. Cornell University.
  • Wlazelek, A. & Cleaveland, C. (2017). Mentally Ill Face System Lacking Services, Funds. The Morning Call.