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Houston’s Biggest Quality of Life Problems


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houston traffic

It might come as no surprise to Houstonians, but one of the biggest problems that plague the city’s quality of life today is traffic.  That’s according to the 2015 Houston Area Survey from Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research.  The problem is tied to Houston’s continued population growth, which doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon, Dr. Stephen Klineberg, director for the Kinder Institute, stated.

Traffic is the biggest problem in the Houston area, according to 28% of respondents.  Next, 21% felt crime was the biggest, followed by 18% who felt it was the economy.  And 65% of respondents felt traffic has gotten worse over the past 3 years.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear to be getting better, Klineberg added.  Houston’s population growth is expected to continue, and with more people vying to live near their offices and social scenes, metro Houston likely will become more congested.  “You can imagine building stable communities that are mixed-income, but the issue of affordable housing is critical,” Klineberg said.  As the metro area becomes more dens, seemingly with higher priced homes and multi-family development, low income residents who work near the downtown corridor are pushed farther out.  That creates more cars on the already packed roadways and potentially worse traffic, Klineberg stated.

The solution?  Overwhelmingly, respondents’ answer was a better public transportation system.  43% of respondents felt it was the best solution, compared to urbanism (27%) or more highways (26%).

While traffic jams and long commutes might just be an annoyance, these problems coupled with others can create an image problem for the city, and in an era where human capital is just as important as natural resources, Houston being as attractive as possible is critical for local business.

“During the oil boom years, nobody cared about quality of life.  The general sentiment seemed to be “So what if it’s ugly?  Smell the money, and come on down’,” Klineberg said.  “We now realize that if we’re going to achieve as a city, we have to attract the best and brightest in America.”

Article courtesy of Joe Martin with Houston Business Journal

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