The Community Need Index (CNI) was designed by the Allegheny County Department of Human Services (DHS) to identify communities that are in greater need relative to others. The newest iteration of the index ranks communities by need level using the following indicators: percentage of families below the poverty line, percentage of unemployed males, resident education levels, percentage of single mothers, and 911 dispatches for gun shots fired. Need is assessed at the census tract level, a relatively small unit of analysis that can reveal a diversity of local conditions that would otherwise be masked by examination at the larger municipality level.
A first report about community needs, published by DHS in 2014, explored need in Allegheny County’s suburbs. Since then, several updates have been published, including the most recent report, an analysis of community need using 2018 American Community Survey (ACS) five-year estimates. This recent report utilizes a revamped CNI methodology that focuses on the entire county, examines changes in need over time, and places particular emphasis on the connection between race and community need. A storymap presents the findings in an interactive and non-technical way, making them easier to explore and share. Lastly, an interactive map allows users to extract data from the 2018 CNI and examine tract-level demographics and need.