PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A recently-released survey commissioned by Mayor Ted Wheeler is giving insight into how Portlanders are generally feeling about key city issues, including homelessness, the state of Downtown, policing, accessibility to city services and housing costs.
The Mayor’s Office tasked the Portland-based firm DHM Research with conducting the May survey, which polled 500 Portland residents with a 12-minute questionnaire. The results of the survey, first reported by Willamette Week, mostly confirmed what the mayor already knows, a spokesperson for his office told KOIN 6.
“We commissioned this poll to better understand Portlander’s priorities so we can work to address these concerns,” the office spokesperson said. “This data showed us much of what we already knew — Portlanders want increased action along our priority areas: homelessness, community safety, shared economic prosperity, and livability.”
Homelessness, litter and crime were all notable areas of concern for Portland residents, the survey shows. According to the data, 66% of those polled said they avoid Downtown and the central city area due to homelessness. Trash and graffiti were also a factor for not visiting the inner city for 60 percent of people. Half of those polled also listed vandalism, property crime and violent crime against people as reasons to avoid the city’s center.
These factors contributed to nearly 60% of surveyed residents having a negative impression of the greater downtown area, with 33% feeling negative and 26% feeling very negative about the state of Portland’s inner city. Portlanders with the most negative opinions of the central city, the data shows, were 45 or older, white, and are more likely to live farther away from the inner city than those with more positive impressions of the city.
Portlanders with the most positive impressions, the survey says, are between 18 and 44 years old, work downtown, live west of the river, and identify as people of color.
While most polled residents had a negative impression of the inner city, 57%t of those surveyed said they are still willing to visit the area in some capacity. Most also said they had visited the area at least once in the last month.
That sentiment was highlighted by the 88% of polled residents who said that the Downtown area is important to the city’s overall economy. Eighty-four percent agreed that their neighborhood business districts were also important.
This was a unifying belief among Portlanders. Regardless of age, gender, nationality, area of residence, or income level, all demographics overwhelmingly agreed: Downtown is important.
The Mayor’s Office said that Wheeler intends to use the sentiments expressed in this survey to unite city commissioners on future projects leading up to the fall budget monitoring process.
“The timing of [the survey’s] release coincides with the mayor’s post-Labor Day efforts to engage with his city council colleagues to agree on major projects to move Portland’s recovery forward,” the Mayor’s Office stated today. “These initiatives may be funded in the fall [budget monitoring process] and in next year’s annual city budget.”