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Survey: Dependable water and access to food top of mind in Travis County

Tuesday, June 14, 2022 by Seth Smalley

A record high number of respondents answered the 2022 Travis County community issues survey, according to a county public information officer. Just under 2,500 people responded to the survey, ranking their preferences on a wide range of important issues in the area from a list of over 20.

The countywide survey asked residents to rank, by level of importance, several broad categories and to prioritize their top five.

Credit: Travis County

Dependable water sources, septic systems, access to the internet, food, jobs with living wages, and health care and mental health services topped the list, in that order, with 75 percent ranking dependable water as “very important.”

Similarly, dependable water, access to food, jobs with a living wage, traffic, access to internet and homelessness (in that order) topped the list of priority issues for respondents, with 51 percent of respondents ranking a dependable water source as one of their top priorities. Note that the top priority question was slightly different than the “very important” issue question.

When disaggregated by ethnicity and other group identities, “dependable water source” remained top of mind, with 53 percent of white respondents, 43 percent of Hispanic respondents, 33 percent of Black respondents and 46 percent of Asian respondents ranking it in their top five priorities. For the Black population, access to food was the most frequently rated priority, with 57 percent of African American respondents putting it in their top five issues.

“As you can see, white residents are overrepresented in the survey and Hispanic and Latinx residents are underrepresented. More work needs to be done on future outreach and engagement efforts to better reflect the needs of all the community,” said Yaira Robinson, a Travis County planning manager.

The survey also provided the option to fill in the blank for issues that were not included in the listed questions.

“We have reviewed these responses enough to be able to say that the most prevalent topic that emerged in these comments was the need for affordable housing for both low- and middle-income workers, such as teachers, firefighters and public sector employees,” Robinson told commissioners.

County staff discussed with commissioners the methodology and dissemination process of the survey.

Outreach for the survey, taking place from the beginning of March to the end of April, included 20 tweets in multiple languages, eight Facebook posts and various other social media postings, including on Nextdoor. Workers distributed flyers advertising the survey to 37 locations across the county. Over 8oo community leaders were contacted for the survey and 2,477 people ended up filling it out; it was available in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean, Arabic and Hindi.

The ZIP code that was most well-represented in the survey was 78645, the Jonestown/Lago Vista area. Robinson said that as part of their follow-up, the team will explore the reason for the high response rate in that area.

Photo made available through a Creative Commons license.

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