Houston-Area Survey: More Crime Concerns, Less Worries About the Economy

Houstonians are more worried about crime and less concerned about the economy. Those are just some of the results of the annual Houston-area survey released today. Houston Public Radio's Jack Williams reports.

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This is the 26th year of the survey that polls 650 residents of Harris County on a range of issues. Rice University sociology professor Stephen Klineberg is the survey's director and says more residents are concerned about crime, but not because it's affecting them.

"They see it as a growing problem for the city but when we ask people how worried are you personally that you or a member of your family will be the victim of a crime. 27 percent said that were very worried last year, 27 percent this year, so it's not a big increase in personal fear, but it's a perception that crime has once again become a problem for the city of Houston."

Fewer residents are concerned about the economy in the latest survey, down from 25 percent in 2003 to 13 percent in 2006. But they are worried about inequality.

"When we ask people are we spending too much, too little or about the right amount on efforts to improve the conditions of the poor, 72 percent of Houstonians in this year's survey said we are spending too little on efforts to help the poor and that's a higher percentage than at any time in 26 years of asking that identical question."

Also in the latest survey, 65 percent of those polled now think the arrival of Katrina evacuees has been a bad thing for the city, up from 47 percent last year.

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