How would you rate street conditions in Philadelphia? How big of a problem is graffiti, litter and other quality-of-life issues in your neighborhood?
Mayor Jim Kenney’s administration is asking those questions and a lot more in the 2019 Philadelphia Resident Survey, and officials are looking to get more responses from people who live in the Northeast.
Representatives from the Mayor’s Office said the poll gives residents the opportunity to have a say in what issues the city addresses going forward and what services are prioritized in next year’s municipal budget.
“Should (Mayor Kenney) be fortunate enough to win reelection in November, we would anticipate that the results of this survey will help inform his vision for a second term,” Kenney spokesman Mike Dunn said.
The survey was launched in August and will remain open until Nov. 3. It is available online at www.PHLSurvey.com in English, Spanish and Simplified Chinese and takes about 10 minutes to complete.
Those who want to take the survey by phone can call 215-204-5940. A random selection of households will have the survey mailed to them in an attempt to reach a wide cross section of the city.
The survey is broken up into four sections. The first asks participants to rate various city services, including police, street repair and parks, from excellent to poor. In the second section, residents are asked about how they contact the city to express concerns or pay bills.
Other sections deal with participants’ experiences in their neighborhood and demographic questions.
“The responses that we get are going to help us better understand what issues are impacting city residents,” said Anjali Chainani, policy director for the Mayor’s Office.
“We hope that it’s going to increase public trust in local government, but we certainly want to be able to use the results that we get and the feedback that we get from city residents in informing how we might allocate resources in the city budget to help improve areas where residents feel like need the most improvement.”
Officials said the goal is to receive 10,000 responses with every ZIP code represented. So far, the Mayor’s Office has received more than 4,500 completed surveys.
It’s the second time the Kenney administration has held the survey. The Mayor’s Office brought it back in 2016 after a hiatus of nearly a decade.
The first survey identified street conditions and cleanliness as an area of major concern for residents.
More than 80 percent of people polled rated street repair as “fair” or “poor,” and about 56 percent said street cleaning was poor. Streets, sanitation and water was the top issue participants wanted to see addressed, according to the results of the first survey.
“That was the area that really stood out to us as an area where, if residents wanted any improvement, that is where they wanted to see improvements from the city,” Chainani said.
Kenney responded, administration representatives said, by committing $178 million in 2018 to repaving over a six-year period. The Streets Department has also added a second 34-member paving crew, according to the Mayor’s Office.
Perhaps the biggest challenge of the survey is getting a diverse group of participants. Those involved in the effort want participants of all backgrounds from every neighborhood.
“Usually, with any survey, it is difficult to have it be 100 percent representative,” said Angelina Ruffin, performance management director for the Mayor’s Office. “So, from a statistical standpoint, we weight the responses.”
In the 2016-17 survey, results were weighted in an attempt to accurately reflect the city’s distribution of gender, race, age, ethnicity and education.
The administration plans to hold the survey every other year. Results from this year’s edition are expected to be released in December.
The city is conducting the survey in partnership with the Temple University Institute for Survey Research. ••
Jack Tomczuk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.