Mar 9, 2009

Maps: Neighborhood Happiness (or Not)

The New York Times published an great interactive graphic today -- thousands of New Yorkers were surveyed on their feelings about their neighborhoods, from crime and safety to transportation and education. You can see which community districts had more favorable perceptions of city life than others.

A few interesting trends popped up:

1. While a majority of people in Upper Manhattan rated citywide crime control as good or excellent, they didn't feel that local crime control (in their own neighborhoods) met the same standards.

2. Central Harlem is an outlier on a couple of different measures -- differing even from its Upper Manhattan peer districts in some important ways.

  • In response to the question "How would you rate New York City's services protecting children at risk of abuse and neglect?" only 15% of people in Central Harlem rated it as good or excellent. This is the lowest rating of community districts in Manhattan.

  • In response to a question about the quality of public substance abuse services, only 14% of people rated them as good or excellent. By comparison, 60% of people in its East and West Harlem peers rated those services as good or excellent.

  • Even on snow removal, only 34% of people found that the removal of snow from city streets was good or excellent. Adjoining neighborhoods saw 40-50% of their population give good or excellent ratings to snow removal.

These kinds of community surveys are helpful because they paint a broad stroke over city neighborhoods -- and help us to compare resident perceptions in interesting ways. What our research on the Task Force has shown is that even within these community districts, there are important micro-areas that feel the effects of city issues very differently.

It would have been great, for example, to have some more specific questions on crime and safety that gauge residents' perceptions of reentry trends, even block-by-block. This coming year, the Task Force will pilot a "Community Reentry Scorecard" that does just this: tracks the number of people returning to prison, the reasons for their return, their connections to social services and family supports that keep them out of prison, and community perceptions of change on this issue. This data will originally be collected in one neighborhood as a pilot and will be made available as soon as it is collected for public review. Eventually, we'd like to have Community Reentry Scorecards for each neighborhood in Upper Manhattan, as a way of promoting transparency and tracking success.