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Economy, crime top of mind for Houston-area residents, survey shows

Rice's Dr. Stephen Klineberg has been doing his Houston Area Survey for four decades to highlight what's important to residents of the nation's most diverse city.

HOUSTON — Crime and the economy are the top concerns for Houstonians over the last year, according to the latest Houston Area Survey by Dr. Stephen Klineberg. 

Rice University's Kinder Institute released results on Tuesday. 

Robert Lilljedahl moved here from Austin two years ago and we asked him what his biggest issue is.

"It's really been crime. We've definitely noticed crime is on the rise," Lilljedahl said.

Lifelong Houstonian Raquel Bautista agrees.

"Because I have three kids, and I'm worried about them and the future," Bautista told us. "If it's bad now, it'll probably be even worse later."

They're not alone.

A quarter of the nearly 2,000 Harris County adults Rice surveyed earlier this year called crime the biggest problem facing people in the Houston area.

RELATED: Rising homicide rates in Houston, Harris County

Economic concern was the most common answer followed by public health/COVID-19 and traffic congestion.

The survey also showed two-thirds of Houstonians want the government to spend more money to fix public schools since education is more important than ever.

"You didn't need education to make money in Texas. The big fortunes were made from cotton, timber, cattle, sugar, oil. The source of wealth in the 21st century will have less to do with natural resources and more to do with human resources," Dr. Klineberg explained.

One surprise, he says fewer Anglos believe people of color have the same opportunities as their white counterparts.

"The George Floyd murder and all these experiences the last couple of years reinforce that sense that for the first time now, all majorities in all communities recognize deep inequalities. People can be poor through no fault of their own, and so the other big finding was increasing support through government programs."

Dr. Klineberg said since Houston is the nation's most ethnically diverse region, this survey also gives insights into where the rest of the U.S. will be in 25 years.

"People are not always happy about the findings in the surveys, but they want to hear them."

Dr. Klineberg first launched the survey four decades ago. He presented his findings today to a who's who of elected officials, business leaders, and philanthropists.


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