Fear of crime is declining in Houston. More people want to live in walkable neighborhoods with a mix of residences, workplaces and shopping. And thereâs continued growth in support for LGBT rights. Those are just a few takeaways from the 36th annualÂ Houston Area Survey from Rice Universityâs Kinder Institute for Urban Research.
The survey is the nationâs longest-running study of any metropolitan areaâs economy, population, life experiences, beliefs and attitudes. The results of this yearâs study are being unveiled at a luncheon today (May 1, 2017), and its author, Dr. Stephen Klineberg,Â joins us to unveil the results.
According to the survey, 56 percent of Houstonians think homosexuality is âmorally acceptable,â compared to just 21 percent in 1997.
âIt looks as if there the big force is not people changing their minds,â KlinebergÂ said, âbut each new generation coming in with a much more comfortable feeling about the diversity â much more of a sense that thisÂ is who we are.â
Houstonâs Biggest Problem
Each year, respondents are asked what they see as the biggest problem in the Houston area, and, each year, the response that leads the pack is â not surprisinglyÂ â traffic. This year, 24 percent of respondents cited that as the regionâs biggest concern.
Meanwhile, some 16 percent of respondents said the economy was their biggest concern, and 15 percent said crime, which was the lowest figure that response has had since 2003.Â Respondents were also asked about their fear of crime.Â Only 18Â percent said they were very worried they or a family member would become a crime victim. Thatâs the lowest figure on that question since 1995, when it was 43 percent.
Tremendous Livability of This City
Despite citing concerns about traffic, the economy and crime, more than two thirds of all respondents said if they had the chance to move away from Greater Houston they wouldnât.
âWell, thatâs been one of the stories of Houston,â Klineberg said. âPeople complain in our surveys â because we invite them to â about traffic, pollution, crime, the weatherâ¦and then we say âWell how would you rate the Houston area as a place to live?â âItâs a wonderful place to live.â The story of Houston is people come here often reluctantly. âYuck, the job is here. Weâll come for a couple of yearsâ and then discover the tremendous livability of this city.â
This year, 64 percent of survey participants said job opportunities in Houston were excellent or good, which was typical of previous years but down from 2015âs high of 69 percent. Dr. Klineberg said heâs not surprised Houstonians feel so strongly about the opportunities here, despiteÂ the last couple of years of low oil prices and a rise in local unemployment.
âItâs hard to be pessimistic in Houston, and people just tend to feel that things are ok, that things are moving forward.â
The survey is based on landline and cellphone interviews conducted between late January and early March with 827 people from Harris County, 400 from Fort Bend County, and 402 from Montgomery County. Responses are weighted so that the data reflect the actual populations of area residents.