Independence residents generally are satisfied with their quality of life and services in the city, according to results from the 2016 Citizen Survey that the city released Monday.
The city said it received 661 responses from surveys sent out at random to all parts of the city. The ETC Institute from Olathe, Kansas, conducted the survey, which had last been done in 2013. The first citizen survey came in 2000, and 2016 marked the eighth one. The 2013 survey had received 610 responses from about 1,800.
Among the survey respondents, 55 percent said they are satisfied with the quality of life, and 70 percent gave the city a positive rating as a place to live. From city services, fire services (86 percent), water and sanitary sewer (71), police (71), electric utilities (69) and parks and recreation (68) received the highest levels of satisfaction.
From its analysis, the ETC recommended three major priorities for investment for the next two years: police services, maintenance of city streets and enforcement of city codes and ordinances.
In a city news release, ETC Senior Project Manager Jason Morado said that although the overall satisfaction index for Independence was down two points since the last survey – 112 this year compared to 114 three years ago – the company observed similar slight declines in many of its surveys conducted nationwide.
The results are statistically valid at a 95 percent confidence rate, according to the release, as ETC analyzed demographics to ensure the respondents represented the community as a whole.
“The feedback we received from our residents is paramount to the City Council as we set our strategic goals for the coming years,” Mayor Eileen Weir said in a statement thanking the respondents. “The better we are able to understand the wants and needs of our citizens, the better we can work to improve the community.”
The overall satisfaction index for all surveyed communities in the Kansas City metro area decreased by one point from 2013 (90 to 89), and while Independence has improved 12 points from 100 since the first survey in 2000, the metro area has dropped 11 points. The city ranked at or above the metro area in six of nine service areas evaluated.
Among other results from the Independence survey, 83 percent of residents feel safe in their neighborhood during the day (57 percent at night), and importance of preserving the city's historic sites and maintaining the character of the Independence Square rated at 93 and 89 percent, respectively. For top three reasons to stay in Independence for the next 10 years, 59 percent cited affordable housing, 50 percent proximity to family and friends and 44 percent access to a variety of shopping and entertainment options.
Feedback from the survey helps the council and city staff develop the city’s strategic plan, scheduled for completion in early January 2017.
HOMELESSNESS CHALLENGE: Cindy Friend, chairperson of the city's Hungry and Homeless Coalition, told the City Council Monday that Independence has identified and arranged housing for 435 previously homeless military veterans since the beginning of the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness began in 2015 after a White House initiative.
That leaves 19 identified veterans still to house in Independence, hopefully by the end of 2016, though Friend added that reaching the goal of “Functional Zero” means not just housing all ID'd homeless veterans, but having support services in place for when future homeless veterans are found.
“There's not just one cause and not just one solution,” Friend said of homelessness in general, “and it can become seemingly an insurmountable program.”
Several hundred cities nationwide took on the challenge, and thus far fewer than 50 have reached Functional Zero, Friend said. Independence has teamed with Kansas City and Kansas City, Kansas, in the challenge, pooling the area's various emergency organizations and nonprofit resources.