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Kinder Survey: Houstonians show an increased desire for walkable neighborhoods for the first time in 15 years
The Kinder Institute for Urban Research also announced Fort Bend and Montgomery counties will be included in the 2024 survey for the first time.

Patricia Ortiz
Houston Public Media (link may expire over time)

May 16, 2023 -- Data from the 2023 Kinder Houston Area Survey showed 60% of those surveyed favored mixed-use developments in walkable neighborhoods over single-family homes.

For the past 15 years, residents surveyed were equally interested in single-family homes and mixed-use developments. Dan Potter is a senior researcher for the survey and said the change is seen most with younger residents.

"Young adults are looking for public transportation. A bus, a rail, ‘let me get and go where I'm trying to be,’" he said. "’But let me do it passively.’ They're looking for that area where they can live, where they can work, they can play, all within a walkable area."

Potter said the change likely comes from changes in tastes, but could also be because more people are moving into Houston who are used to denser cities.

"But also just looking around and recognizing that as a city, as we continue to become more interconnected and integrated," he said. "How are there ways for us to be able to move around that don't put us at that requirement of that vehicle the way that Houston historically had been?"

This year's survey, released on Monday, also found around a quarter of participants believe the economy is the biggest issue in the Houston region. Twenty percent of participants reported housing costs and instability as the biggest issue.

Potter said the data is collected for policymakers and community leaders who use it to help create change.

"Right now, our data is representative of Harris county. It's not just that highlighting the inequality is critical," Potter said. "But by being able to talk about different geographies, not just the county, it gives us the opportunity to do direct [and] hyper-local efforts."

Ruth Lopez Turley is the Director of the Kinder Institute for Urban Research. Turley and Potter also joined Houston Matters on Tuesday to discuss the survey’s findings. She said next year's survey will include Fort Bend and Montgomery counties for the first time.

"With Harris County, these three counties represent more than 20% of the population of Texas," she said.

Turley said with the addition of Fort Bend and Montgomery counties, the institute plans to double their survey with over 6,000 respondents in 2024.

This year's survey had a sample of 3,184 adults living in Harris County, and based on individuals who will respond year after year for the survey to provide long-term opinions of Harris County residents and how they shift with time. The report is now available with other findings online.