The East Side Community of Choice Resident Quality of Life Survey
Background. In 2013, ESNDC implemented the Community of Choice Initiative. The strategy was to concentrate affordable housing production and small business support on a 90 square block area of the East Side adjacent to the Payne and Arcade commercial districts.
In addition to tracking numbers of housing units built or rehabbed, commercial projects completed, commercial vacancy rates, and new investment, we decided to start with a residential quality of life survey in 2013 and to then follow up again in 2016.
What we are interested in. We oriented the questions towards how people feel about their neighborhood, neighbors, and the community as a whole. For example, we wanted to know if people feel they can make a positive difference in the community, if races and cultures mix on the neighborhood level, and what sort of trajectory residents feel the community is on.
Survey Method. The graphs that follow are a distillation of the five-page survey into what we feel are the most substantive and interesting responses.The study was designed by Bill Johnston, a retired statistics instructor at Hamline University. He chose 19 residential blocks that crisscrossed the Community of Choice area. Our goal was to interview people in at least half of the homes or apartment properties on each block. This gave us a +3% to -3% threshold. The questions were derived from Neighborworks America’s, “Success Measures,” program.
Judge for yourself. Undeniably, from an affordable housing and small business investment point of view, the Community of Choice neighborhood has improved significantly. Payne Avenue’s retail vacancy rate went from 28% in 2012 to 10% in 2016. Home prices returned to, then exceeded 2007 levels in 2016. But, what do residents think? As the graphs reveal, residents’ perceptions do not necessarily reflect the economic metrics. Judge for yourself.