A new survey reveals that New Yorkers mostly agree on what's working—and what isn't—in the city

By Alanna Schubach | July 7, 2017 - 1:45PM 

New Yorkers seem to be united in their enjoyment of city parks Eden, Janine and Jim

New Yorkers are an opinionated bunch, and recently they had their chance to sound off on a range of city services, from rodent control to the use of tax dollars, in a survey conducted by the city government. The New York Times evaluated the data, creating maps that reflect local outlooks by neighborhood, and what they found is that we're surprisingly unified in our feelings on several fronts.

First, the positive: Across all five boroughs, we're pretty pleased with safety in parks and on subways during the daylight hours; almost everyone rated these factors of urban life as "good" or "excellent." The same goes for the quality of fire and emergency medical services, as well as the city's responsiveness to complaints via 311 and its official website. And 16 years after the September 11th attacks, most New Yorkers said they feel that the city is well-protected from acts of terrorism. 

On the other hand, we also seem to feel uniformly negative on a number of issues: Respondents in every single neighborhood gave below-average ratings to both public housing and services for homeless people. This isn't a huge surprise, given that NYCHA has lately been beset with major cash flow problems. As Brick previously reported, the agency is already operating at a deficit that makes it a major challenge to institute much-needed repairs to its aging subsidized housing, leaving some tenants dealing with dreadful living conditions. (The Washington Post writes that the Trump administration's proposed funding cuts to public housing would only beleaguer the agency further.) 

It's also likely that New Yorkers have noticed a dramatic rise in homelessness. According to Gothamist, in February an annual count of people sleeping on the streets revealed a 39 percent increase from last year. Over 60,000 are currently living in homeless shelters, and the demand for space in these shelters is up 79 percent over the past decade, per Coalition for the Homeless

Just as telling are the aspects of city life on which New Yorkers don't agree, depending on where they live. For "cultural activities," for instance, residents of affluent neighborhoods like the Upper East and Upper West Sides, home to multiple museums and performing arts centers, responded with ratings of "excellent," while those living in lower-income areas like Mott Haven, Port Morris, and Melrose in the South Bronx felt quite differently. 

There were similar splits along economic lines on issues like neighborhood cleanliness, crime control, and feeling safe on the subway at night, with far more favorable ratings from residents of Manhattan, north Brooklyn, and northwest Queens than from New Yorkers living in the Bronx and eastern Brooklyn. Overall, the Times analysis notes, the area in which New Yorkers are most satisfied with their quality of life is also one of the city's wealthiest: The Upper West Side, Lincoln Square, and Manhattan Valley. 

Another major change the Times identified: Brooklynites are more pleased with NYC life than they were the last time the survey was conducted, in 2008. Again, this seems to be linked to income, given the rapid pace of gentrification in the borough. (The Furman Center found that in some Brooklyn neighborhoods, average income increased by over 6 percent in recent years.)

However, overall, the article notes, about 50 percent of respondents expressed general satisfaction with their lives here—close to the same amount that said they were happy with NYC back in 2008. Despite all the changes of the past decade, it seems that New Yorkers are themselves pretty consistent. 


Alanna Schubach

Contributing writer

Contributing editor Alanna Schubach has over a decade of experience as a New York City-based freelance journalist.

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