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5 Important Ways Houston Is Transforming

Fresh data is out for the 2019 Kinder Houston Area Survey, the longest-running survey of Houstonians.

A view of Buffalo Bayou and the Houston skyline.

Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research has released its 38th edition of the longest running survey of Houstonians. The 2019 Kinder Houston Area Survey reveals the city’s economic and demographic transitions throughout the decades. Here are the highlights: 

Poverty is widespread in Houston. 

This year’s survey found 39% of Harris County residents said they couldn’t come up with $400 in case of emergency.

The survey also found a third of residents said their household income is less than $37,500.

Houstonians are thinking differently about poverty. 

Rice University professor Stephen Klineberg authored the survey and told Houston Matters he’s seen a shift in attitudes about poverty.

“There’s a deep undercurrent of poverty in this city of extreme and great affluence and success, and what we’re watching in the surveys is a series of questions that show every year we ask increasing percentages saying we need to address those inequalities,” he said.

This year, 53% of Houstonians said welfare benefits give poor people a second chance, compared to 43% in 2017.

Two thirds of Houstonians also believe higher education is the key to better paying jobs.

As time passes after Harvey, fewer Houstonians see flood-mitigation as a priority.

Just 7% of respondents said flooding is the biggest problem facing the city, down from 15% in the 2018 survey.

And although 75% of Houstonians expect more severe storms in the future, fewer want that to impact development.

“It’s kind of that resurgence of what’s in the DNA of Houston, reluctance to regulations, but it’s also coupled by understanding more broadly that this is one of the really big challenges for Houston,” said Klineberg.

Last year 71% of Houstonians said they favored a ban on construction in flood-prone areas.

This year, just 56% of respondents said they support a ban.

Support also dropped slightly for increasing local taxes to buy out homes that repeatedly flood.

Views of gays and lesbians are as progressive as ever.

Acceptance of homosexuality continues to grow each year.

By comparison, moral views on abortion have remained nearly the same since 1997.

Houstonians still hate traffic.

When the Kinder Houston Area Survey asked Houstonians to name their biggest concern for the city, 36% off all respondents said it was traffic.  

That’s a significant jump from 2018, when only 25% named it as their biggest concern. 

Listen to the full conversation with Klineberg on Houston Matters in the full audio below:

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