Neighborhood Analysis 2.0

Refreshing and expanding our findings on safety, affordability, and outlooks

Cameron Crow
Sep 20, 2018 · 7 min read

Make Idaho Better (previously Make Boise Better) is the easiest way to be a part of state and local solutions. Do your part.

You can read below, or have me walk you through it with this video

How Analysis Posts Work

In our analysis, we take a deeper look at our survey results and highlight the patterns and insights we find under the surface using segmentation across meaningful demographics (like age, gender, or location).

Because we don’t want to draw weird interpretations from small sample sizes, we only segment when we get 50 or more responses. By spreading the word you can help us maintain that level of participation. And now, to the main event…

Boise Neighborhoods

This is the first survey any new Make Boise Better subscriber receives. Besides collecting some important demographic info that we can use in future survey analysis, it helps us know what subscribers think about their neighborhood’s safety, affordability, and whether things are getting better or not.

We published our first analysis on this survey in late June 2018, and since then our responses have over doubled, from 81 responses to 184 (as of now). It’s time for a refresh!

The overall results are publicly available here, and we’ll use segmentation to highlight some below-the-surface findings.

First, our sample’s demographics

Whenever you look at survey results, it’s a good idea to check what types of people responded. This gives you context as to how broad and diverse the sample is. This is good to know so that you don’t accidentally draw the wrong interpretations by assuming things are evenly distributed.

For this survey, so far, we’ve got about 3x more owners than renters. So that’s something you’ll want to keep in mind. Our age range is pretty spread out, but leans towards younger folks. And our top neighborhoods have quite a few more responses than the others. (If you know anyone from other neighborhoods that’d be interested in Make Boise Better, please invite them to join so we can get better results!)


Renting and Outlook

In our first analysis post, one headline was “It’s harder to be a renter.” In other words, people that rent were less likely to say that their neighborhood is getting better.

That seems to be true still, though it’s not a super striking difference. The distinction seems to be more “About the same” votes than “Much better” or “Better.”

One possible theory is that renters are generally less invested in their neighborhood because they’re more transient. Not all of them move frequently, but it’s much easier to do that if you’re just renting a room and don’t need to put a house on the market and buy another one. It’s possible that renters everywhere are generally not noticing neighborhood improvements as often as homeowners that are more rooted and attentive, theoretically.


Age and Outlook

Another headline from the last analysis post was “Younger Boiseans are more optimistic” — or, the older you are, the less likely you are to say your neighborhood is getting better.

After looking at it again, with more responses, I think there’s something there, but the difference is pretty slight. You can see a few more votes for “Worse” with respondents over 40, compared to respondents that are under 40. I’m not feeling comfortable enough about this one to make a big to do about it though.


Neighborhood and Outlook

Another finding was “It’s better on the Bench” — or, Bench neighborhoods think things are getting better more than other hoods.

This seems to still be the case. This chart shows how many of the respondents said that the neighborhood is getting “Better” or “Much better” out of all responses from that neighborhood.

The Depot Bench, Central Bench, and Vista are leading the way on positive outlooks, though the East End is up there as well. On the other hand, of the top 10 neighborhoods, the North End is only #8.

One theory might be that the North End is a lot more established and has more amenities than other places. Maybe it’s already really great, and it’s harder to make as many noticeable improvements there at this point.


Neighborhood and Safety

Ok, now we’re done with re-checking our original findings. Lets look at some new stuff!

Here, we’re looking at safety across our top 10 neighborhoods, by responses. They’re all considered safe, but I narrowed in on the percent of responses that claimed “Extremely safe” or “Very safe.”

The North End leads here, with 100% of respondents in those top two categories. On the other end, you can see that the Depot Bench and Vista scored the lowest on this measure. They may be the most optimistic, but it looks like they’ve got further to go with safety.


Neighborhood and Affordability

Now lets look at Affordability. For this chart, I calculated the percent of respondents that claimed their neighborhood is extremely, very, or somewhat affordable. (Basically, the number that didn’t say “Not so affordable” or “Not at all affordable.”)

This one really matches my Zillow research from a few years ago when I was in the housing market. East End and North End are the least affordable. Desirable Bench locations aren’t much better. The further away you go from downtown, the more affordable things get.


That’s all for quantitative analysis. Now we’re going to shift gears to qualitative, and see what interesting comments came through.

Interesting Comments

There were a lot of interesting comments. I’ve highlighted several that I think are particularly interesting. Instead of commenting on all of them, I’ve emoji-fied my reactions. (😜)

Too much attention:

I think they pay TOO much attention to the quality of my lawn. (😂)

Lamenting the changing neighborhood character. It’s ok that it is changing, but let’s focus that change for the betterment of the neighborhood. (🙌)

“Suspicious” behavior, people seem to be afraid of the slightest event out of the ordinary. Some overreaction disproportionate to the situation. A bit of worst case thought process. (😬)

“Vanishing Boise” and this idealized society not based in current reality, but not working towards making it better. Just bitching. (👻)

The political make-up is one thing. As though the fact that most people who live in the North End lean left justifies dismissal of its residents opinions. It reminds me of how certain politicians who want to score points in rural Idaho refer to Boise as the “Great State of Ada.” (✊)

People pay too much attention the difference between renters and owners. There’s a huge disparity between the two especially in the HOA’s eyes. The renters are basically second class citizens where as the owners are treated like kings and rarely harassed. (☹️)

Not enough attention:

Friendliness. Maybe it’s us, but we’ve said hi to many neighbors with no response. Almost no one says hi. It seems to be getting better in that regard very slowly though! (🤝)

People lump all North Enders into one socio-economic category, when there is a lot of diversity. There is a lot of financial struggle and trade-offs that are made to be able to afford and stay in the neighborhood for many people. (👋)

Affordability. Small houses are being gobbled up by developers and flipped, I think it’s getting increasingly hard to rent affordably, and some of the character of the hood may be at risk. I live a block from a large apartment complex, and it’s great. Would love to see more of that, AND also care paid to how things get flipped. (😩)

Rentals owned by out-of-state investors. The in-fill houses with constant renters rotating through make it impossible to build a lasting sense of community. The issues that come with out-of-state property owners are myriad. I am pro affordable housing, but the way these rentals are run do not qualify either as affordable housing or an investment in the community. (😠)

Things affecting the broader Boise and Treasure Valley communities. We are a uniquely urban neighborhood being so close to the downtown that I think we have difficulty empathizing with and understanding challenges faced by suburban communities and Boise commuters. I also think we have a tendency to look only at the problems facing Boise right now and not realize that these are national issues. (transportation, housing costs, workforce shortage, gentrification) (🤔)

That’s all folks!

If you want more analysis goodness, check out our other posts at the Analysis section.

And if you haven’t already, PLEASE join us and do your part. More subscribers means more responses and more impactful results and discussions.


Don’t buy it? Make it better

We’re working to figure out what people really think. If you ever read our stuff and don’t believe the results, you could be right — maybe we aren’t hearing from enough people with different views.

If that’s what you think, help us get closer by joining and weighing in yourself, and ask your friends and family to do it too. The more people participate, the better the results will be.

Make Idaho Better

Using surveys, public results and analysis, and stories to make Idaho voices heard and make a difference. Helping leaders find better solutions with innovative and affordable community engagement and market research.

Cameron Crow

Written by

medium.com/cam-crow

Make Idaho Better

Using surveys, public results and analysis, and stories to make Idaho voices heard and make a difference. Helping leaders find better solutions with innovative and affordable community engagement and market research.

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