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Community cohesion is important issue for GR residents, GVSU survey finds

  • A Voice GR logo

Posted on March 30, 2017

New findings released by Grand Valley's Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy show that residents of the City of Grand Rapids feel that community cohesion is a top strength, but there continue to be differences by demographics in how respondents rate Grand Rapids as a place to live.

The findings are based on the results of the 2016 VoiceGR survey, conducted by the Johnson Center’s Community Research Institute last fall. The VoiceGR survey asks about prominent issues such as education, housing, employment, inclusion and health. 

Results are used by residents, neighborhood associations, schools, nonprofits, funders, local government and businesses to inform their programming and day-to-day decisions. The annual survey seeks to inform local decision-makers and stakeholders, utilizing data on the opinions, attitudes, and perceptions of local residents.

"VoiceGR is an important metric for our city,” said Mayor Rosalynn Bliss. “It allows residents to share their opinions and tell us how we’re succeeding as a community as well as where we are falling short. It helps us understand how local government, businesses and nonprofits can work together to better serve the citizens of greater Grand Rapids."

New this year are VoiceGR neighborhood summaries, which allow residents to see results for all questions that pertain to their particular neighborhood. 

The survey results, including visualization tools, are available here:

There continue to be differences by demographics in how respondents rate Grand Rapids as a place to live, with white residents responding the most positively, followed by Asian, multiracial, American Indian, Hispanic/Latino, and black/African American residents.

Respondents reported feeling less safe in their neighborhoods than in previous years’ surveys, with 15 percent feeling “somewhat unsafe” or “very unsafe,” compared to seven percent in 2013.

Other key findings from the study include:

• The top community strengths identified by respondents were community cohesion, people and location.

• The top problems identified by respondents were crime, infrastructure and lack of cohesion.

• The appearance of cohesion, meaning feeling like you are welcome and belong in your community, as both a strength and a problem indicates that it is a very important issue for residents.

The Johnson Center will be releasing a series of data briefs in the coming months to provide deeper insight on many of the subtopics of the VoiceGR 2016 survey.

About VoiceGR

VoiceGR is an evolving community survey designed uniquely to connect demographics with the opinions, attitudes and perceptions of greater Grand Rapids area residents on topics such as ability to meet basic needs, access to healthcare, neighborhood safety, employment, education, and racism and discrimination. The data gathered from the survey is meant to help create a baseline to stimulate conversation on pertinent issues to the region.

The primary goal of VoiceGR is to provide objective data to residents, nonprofits, governments, businesses and other decision makers regarding the perceptions and needs of the community.