Report: More Greenwich families struggling financially

By Hannah Dellinger September 22, 2018

Aziz Elsoudani is an economics professor and financial analyst. He’s written multiple books and dozens of articles in three different languages. Despite years of toiling and saving to support his family, he is looking for work at 79.

Elsoudani left Egypt for political reasons and came to the U.S. in 2002 to teach, leaving behind his land and assets. He worked at high schools, colleges and universities in the U.S. for over a decade, but recently he had to stop teaching after suffering a spinal injury that precludes him from standing for long periods at a time. The professor said the savings he brought to America was quickly depleted by high rental prices and medical bills.

“I lost everything,” he said. “You can’t imagine.”

Elsoudani and wife, Fawzia, got a break 15 years ago when they were accepted into Agnes Morley Heights, a senior housing facility in Greenwich subsidized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. There, they pay 30 percent of their income as rent, a much more affordable prospect than renting in the private sector.

“This building, it is low rent,” Elsoudani said. “All (facilities), I appreciate. I appreciate the town and the administration of the public housing for everything (they) provide.”

The couple is able to cover their monthly expenses because they live in public housing, Elsoudani said.

But other Greenwich residents paying a higher percentage of their income for housing have bigger financial challenges to overcome. Each month, they face difficult decisions, as they live paycheck to paycheck.

“If there’s one dramatic circumstance, like a death in the family, or somebody losing a job, or someone getting sick, it’s a disaster,” said Alan Barry, commissioner of the town’s Department of Human Services. “And they’re not putting away for retirement, for college.”

Greenwich’s high cost of living and a shortage of jobs that pay a living wage in the region are causing an increase in the number of people struggling to make ends meet, according to town officials and nonprofit administrators.

About 21 percent of Greenwich’s population is employed but can’t afford basic necessities, according to the United Way’s recently released Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed report, and more than 6 percent are living below the federal poverty line.

Continue reading: Greenwich Time