Home » Smallwood-Biddleville, Lincoln Heights, and Washington Heights Neighborhoods Survey Results

Smallwood-Biddleville, Lincoln Heights, and Washington Heights Neighborhoods Survey Results

By Dr. Tom Priest

Department of Social Sciences

Johnson C. Smith University

January, 2012

The survey reported here was conducted between November, 2010 and May, 2011.   Three neighborhoods along the Beatties Ford corridor were sur-veyed—Smallwood-Biddleville, Lincoln Heights and Washington Heights.  Every fifth residence along each side of each street in each neighborhood was sampled.  Some 17 trained and paid JCSU students conducted the majority of interviews.  Professor Melissa Knosp of JCSU’s Department of Foreign Languages also con-ducted interviews with Hispanic respondents, while Dr. James Nguyen of the JCSU Department of Business and Economics conducted interviews with Vietnamese respondents.  Altogether 306 interviews were conducted, 93 in Smallwood-Biddleville, 148 in Lincoln Heights, and 65 in Washington Heights.

A questionnaire for each neighborhood was developed in conjunction with leaders of the respective neighborhood associations.  Many questions were about neighborhood demographics, such as the race/ethnicity, age and education of residents.  Other questions reflected organizational concerns of the neighbor-hood associations.  All questionnaires, for example, asked respondents if they would be willing to serve in the neighborhood association’s block captain program or on the safety committee, and the respondent’s opinion of the neighborhood association.  Questionnaires will be turned over to leaders of the respective neighborhood associations to gain possible new members and volunteers.  Other questions, however, reflected Dr. Priest’s interest in the effects of neighborhood incivilities upon residents’ feelings of safety and their opinions about police.

Demographics. Residents of all three neighborhoods were asked about race/ ethnicity.  As indicated in Table 1, the majority of respondents in all three neigh-borhoods were African American.   Yet, note that the proportions of other racial and ethnic groups varied among the three.  Whites, for example, made up more than one-sixth of those interviewed in Smallwood-Biddleville, perhaps reflecting  greater gentrification.  Both Smallwood-Biddleville and Lincoln Heights had fairly large proportions of Hispanics.  At least a few Asians (Vietnamese) were inter-viewed in both Lincoln Heights and Washington Heights.

Table 1.  Race/ethnicity by neighborhood

Smallwood-Biddleville%        N Lincoln Heights%        N Washington Heights%        N
African American      76.3     (71)     89.9    (133)     96.9     (62)
White      17.2     (16)       1.4    (     2)       0.0     (   0)
Hispanic        6.5     (   6)       6.8    (   10)       0.0     (   0)
Asian        0.0     (   0)         .7     (     1)       3.1     (   2)
Other        0.0     (   0)       1.4    (      2)       0.0     (   0)
Total   100.0      (93)    100.0   (148)   100.0     (64)

As in many other surveys we have conducted, respondents were more likely to be female.  Some 69.2 percent of respondents in Smallwood-Biddleville, 62.8 percent of respondents in Lincoln Heights, and 73.8 percent of respondents in Washington Heights were female.

We also asked about the age of respondents.  Table 2 presents the results.  Briefly, Washington Heights seems to have the youngest population, while Lincoln Heights seems to have the oldest.

Table 2. Age by neighborhood

Smallwood-Biddleville%        N Lincoln Heights%        N Washington Heights%        N
25 years or less      17.6     (16)       11.6    (17)      23.8    (15)
26-39 years      24.2     (22)       21.8    (32)      27.0    (17)
40-59 years      34.1     (31)       30.6    (45)      31.7    (20)
60 or more      24.2     (22)       36.1    (53)      17.5    (11)
Total    100.0     (91)     100.0  (147)     100.0   (63)

We asked about the education of respondents.  Some 51.1 percent of Smallwood-Biddleville respondents, 57.4 percent of Lincoln Heights respondents, and 57.8 percent of Washington Heights respondents reported graduation from high school or less education.

We asked how long respondents had lived in their neighborhoods.   Table 3 presents the results. Washington Heights appears to have the greatest proportion of new residents, perhaps related to the new Nia Point apartments.

Table 3. Length of residence by neighborhood

Smallwood-Biddleville%        N Lincoln Heights%        N Washington Heights%        N
One yr. or less      16.7    (15)      18.3    (26)      26.2    (16)
Two –five yrs.      31.1    (28)      28.2    (40)      36.1    (22)
Six-ten yrs.        7.8    (   7)      10.6    (15)      16.4    (10)
Eleven or more yrs     44.4     (40)      43.0    (61)      21.3    (13)
Total   100.0     (90)    100.0  (142)    100.0    (61)

Another question asked “Do you own or rent?”  Some 53.3 percent of respondents from Smallwood-Biddleville, 49.0 percent from Lincoln Heights, and 34.4 percent from Washington Heights said they owned.

Residents of all three neighborhoods were asked “Are there children living in your household?”  Table 4 presents the results. Smallwood-Biddleville has the smallest proportion of residents reporting children in the home.

Table  4.   Children in household by neighborhood

Smallwood-Biddleville%        N Lincoln Heights%        N Washington Heights%        N
Yes     37.0     (34)      46.6     (  69)      53.8    (35)
No     63.0     (58)      53.4     (  79)      46.2    (30)
Total   100.0     (92)    100.0     (148)    100.0    (65)

Residents of the Lincoln Heights and Washington Heights neighborhoods were also asked the ages of their children.  Some 38 residents of Lincoln Heights and 20 residents of Washington Heights indicated the presence of children five years of age or less in their home.  Some 23 residents of Lincoln Heights and 16 residents of Washington Heights indicated the presence of children six to ten years of age in the home.  Some 42 residents of Lincoln Heights and 27 residents of Washington Heights indicated the presence of children eleven to eighteen years of age in their home.  (At least a few people who said there were children in their home gave the ages of adult children, including at least one “child” 40 years old and one 65 years old.)

Neighborhood satisfaction.  Three questions asked respondents their feelings about their neighborhoods.  One question asked about satisfaction with their neighborhood, another asked about satisfaction with their block, and the third asked whether the person felt they were part of the neighborhood.   Table 5 presents the proportions by neighborhood who were satisfied or very satisfied or who said they were part of the neighborhood.  There were minor differences by neighborhood in the proportions who said they were satisfied or very satisfied with their neighborhood.  Most are satisfied.  There were fairly large differences in the proportions who said they were satisfied or very satisfied with their block.  The proportion satisfied with their block was greatest in Smallwood-Biddleville and smallest in Lincoln Heights.  (Several respondents indicated they were dissatisfied with the people on their block.)  Similarly, there were sizable differ-ences in proportions who felt they were part of the neighborhood.

Table 5.  Feelings about neighborhood and block by neighborhood

Smallwood-Biddleville%        N Lincoln Heights%        N Washington Heights%        N
“Satisfied with neighborhood” 84.8   (92) 81.1   (147) 84.4   (64)
“Satisfied with block” 91.2     (91) 77.6   (147) 81.3    (64)
“Part of neighborhood” 69.6     (92) 57.8    (147) 47.7    (65)

The proportion was highest in Smallwood-Biddleville and smallest in Washington Heights.  The small proportion in Washington Heights probable is related to the shorter average length of residence of Washington Heights residents, previously indicated.

Neighborhood association/organization.  A number of questions were asked about serving with the neighborhood association/organization.  (A number of respondents did not answer these questions; they said they did not know much about the neighborhood association.)  Table 6 presents the proportions and actual numbers who answered “yes.”   The neighborhood crime watch, the safety committee, and visiting the sick and shut-ins seem to have the greatest appeal.  (Many people had never heard of “National Night Out.”)

Table 6.  Serving with the neighborhood organization/association

Smallwood-Biddleville%        N Lincoln Heights%        N Washington Heights%        N
Block captain       34.4    (32)       23.0    (34)      32.3    (21)
Safety committee       60.2    (56)      45.3     (67)      64.6    (42)
Crime watch       71.0    (66)      55.4     (82)      67.7    (44)
Annual clean-up       62.4    (58)      48.0     (71)      60.0    (39)
National night out       49.5    (46)      35.8     (53)      41.5    (27)
Visit sick       77.4    (72)      64.9     (96)       NA

A few questions about service were specific to one neighborhood or another.  In Smallwood-Biddleville, some 73 respondents said they would be willing to visit the elderly.  In Lincoln Heights, 66 respondents said they wanted to have their trees banded against canker worms, and 31 said they would be willing to help  band trees.  In Lincoln Heights, 57 respondents said they would be willing to help with a tutoring program, while in Washington Heights,27 said they would be willing to help with the Youth Academy. Respondents were asked their opinions of their neighborhood association/ organization.    Table 6 presents their responses by neighborhood.   The proportion with generally positive opinions was not very high, and made up a majority only in Smallwood-Biddleville.  Note also that many respondents said they had no opinion.  A few others did not answer the question.

Table 6.  Opinions of neighborhood association/organization by neighborhood

Smallwood-Biddleville%        N Lincoln Heights%        N Washington Heights%        N
Generally positive     57.8    ( 52)      45.8    (66)      49.2   ( 30)
Generally negative       8.9    (8)      15.3    (22)        8.2   (   5)
No opinion     33.3    (30)      38.9    (56)      42.6   (26)
Total  100.0     (90)    100.0  (144)    100.0   (61)

In Washington Heights, 7 out of 64 respondents said they had read the Small Area Plan adopted by City Council in 2002. A series of questions (used in some previous research on neighborhoods) asked about the respondent’s relations with others in the neighborhood.  The questions are supposed to tap neighborhood cohesion.  One question asked about keeping watch on a neighbor’s house, another asked about visiting with neighbors, another asked about borrowing from neighbors, and the last asked about having close friends in the neighborhood who are not relatives.  Table 7 presents the results.

Table 7. Neighborhood cohesion by neighborhood

Smallwood-Biddleville%        N Lincoln Heights%        N Washington Heights%        N
“Watch neighbor’s house” 80.4    (92) 81.1     (143) 74.6    (63)
“Visit with neighbors often or sometimes” 64.8    (91) 66.4     (140) 83.9     (62)
“Borrowed from neighbors often or sometimes” 41.8    (91) 26.1     (142) 37.5     (64)
“Friends”      66.3    (92)     60.4      (139)     57.4     (61)

As indicated, a majority in each neighborhood said they have kept watch on a neighbor’s house or neighbors have done this for them. Fairly similar proportions in each neighborhood said they often or sometimes visited with neighbors, with Washington Heights having the largest proportion. Smaller proportions said they often or sometimes borrowed from neighbors. Last, a majority in each neighborhood said they had close friends in the neighborhood who were not relatives.   Altogether, all three neighborhoods appear fairly cohesive.

A series of questions were asked about feelings of neighborhood safety. These also have been used in some previous research.  Two questions asked respondents about walking alone on their block, one at night, another during the day.  Another asked if there were places in the neighborhood they tried to avoid. Table 8 presents the results.  As indicated, a majority in each neighborhood agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that they felt safe from crime walking on their block at night.  A much larger proportion agreed or strongly agreed that they felt safe walking during the day.

Table 8. Neighborhood safety by neighborhood

  Smallwood-Biddleville%        N Lincoln Heights%        N Washington Heights%        N
“Safe walking alone at night 56.0    (91) 60.3   (146) 57.8    (64)
“Safe walking alone during day” 91.1   (90) 88.8    (143) 89.1    (64)
“Places I try to avoid” 60.2    (88) 51.5    (134) 53.2    (62)

Yet, a majority also agreed or strongly agreed that there were places in the neighborhood they try to avoid because they may be dangerous.   In brief, at least a few people in each neighborhood do not feel safe on their block or in the neighborhood.

Respondents were presented with three statements about police.  Many people in each neighborhood were reluctant to respond to the statements.  Table  9 indicates the proportions of respondents in each neighborhood who agreed or strongly agreed with each statement. Respondents from Washington Heights were least likely to agree that the CMPD do a good job.  Sizable proportions from all three neighborhoods agreed that the CMPD provide poor service and do not respond to calls at night.

Table 9.  Agreement with questions on CMPD by neighborhood

Smallwood-Biddleville%        N Lincoln Heights%        N Washington Heights%        N
“Do a good job”     79.1     (91)     79.9     (134)      65.6   (64)
“Provide poor service” 34.8     (92) 32.4     (136) 38.1    (63)
“ Do not respond to calls at night” 41.8     (91) 43.1     (134) 45.0    (60)

In Washington Heights, most respondents said they had never attended a city council meeting, school board meeting, or county commissioner meeting in the last two years.  The highest number was 10 who said they often or sometimes attended a school board meeting in the last two years.

**This study was funded by a grant from the Smith Institute for Applied Research.

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