Memphis loves its neighborhoods.
All prevailing political conjecture to the contrary, there is no argument that the thread that runs through the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Housing Survey of the Memphis MSA is our overwhelmingly favorable opinions of our neighborhoods.
The American Housing Survey is an almost yearly survey of housing and household characteristics. It’s hard to imagine what you would want to know about housing in Memphis region that’s not included in the 356-page report. There’s voluminous information on total occupied housing units – owner-occupied or renter-occupied, or black-occupied or Hispanic-occupied, number of rooms, building conditions, air conditioning, and more and more.
Residents were asked more than 800 questions, ranging from whether they find their neighbors bothersome to their opinions on public schools. A different group of cities is picked each time for the survey, and Memphis last hit the list in 1996.
Although favorable attitudes toward neighborhoods have dropped somewhat, it’s worth noting that 24 percent of us rate our neighborhoods as a “perfect 10.”
Included in the survey with a dozen other cities, Memphis’ perfect 10 rating is near the average of 27 percent for all cities, but was more than Seattle (20%) and Denver (19%). Meanwhile, 26 percent of Atlantans gave their neighborhoods perfect 10’s and St. Louis had a 28 percent rating.
In fact, 62 percent of the occupants of area housing rate their neighborhoods (on a scale of 1 to 10) as eight or better. Only three percent rate their neighborhood on the worst end of the scale — one, two or three.
Some other factors that interested us targeted crime, schools, safety and bothersome neighborhood conditions. About three-fourths said there was no street or traffic noises in their neighborhoods, and about 60 percent of those who did report noise said it didn’t bother them.
As for crime, 28 percent said crime was present in their neighborhoods, but only 17 percent said the condition was “bothersome” and only half that number said they were bothered so much they wanted to move. Police protection was ranked unsatisfactory by only nine percent.
On the list of problem conditions, problem people finished at the top, but still at only about five percent. Litter or housing deterioration had 3 percent and poor city and county services received 1.2 percent.
Of the total 430,800 units, the occupants of 123,400 units had children between the ages of five and 15, or about 29 percent.
Thirty-two percent had children between birth and 13 years old, and of the number with children, about 11 percent said their public elementary school was unsatisfactory, but only five percent said they were so problematic that they want to move.
These are extremely positive ratings, but it’s worth noting that when compared to eight years ago, those who rated their neighborhoods as 8, 9 or a perfect 10 back then accounted for 68 percent, as compared to this year’s 62 percent, a drop of about 10 percent.
But then again, however, those who ranked their neighborhoods on the “worst” end of the scale had also dropped – from five to three per cent.