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80% of Cincinnatians say the city is a good place to live, survey shows

Cincinnati skyline as seen from East Price Hill.
Becca Costello
Cincinnati skyline as seen from East Price Hill.

About 80% of Cincinnati residents say the city is a good or excellent place to live, according to a new statistically significant survey. The ETC Institute analyzed about 1,400 responses to the survey, which were chosen to be representative of the city's population according to race, gender, geography and income.

The results focus on three major areas of perceptions.

"How's your community as a place to live? What about raising your children? What about the quality of services your municipality is providing?" said Ryan Murray, ETC assistant director for community research. "[Cincinnati is] significantly above the national average and regional average on all three of those rating items."

Respondents are especially satisfied with fire and ambulance services, and with parks and recreation. Murray says the nearly 60% of residents who say they're satisfied with quality customer service from the city is "leaps and bounds" above national and regional averages.

"It's a very difficult thing to do, especially when you're talking about noise ordinance enforcement, city code enforcement, things like that," Murray said. "It's a lot of opportunities, a lot of touch points to leave residents dissatisfied, and the city of Cincinnati has really come out of that without any negative impacts to this particular rating."

More than half of residents are dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with maintenance of city streets, sidewalks and infrastructure. Murray says that issue is at the top of the list for what residents say needs improvement. That list is based on issues that residents rank high in importance and low in satisfaction:

  • Maintenance of city streets, sidewalks and infrastructure
  • Police services
  • Neighborhood services (e.g., code enforcement, property preservation, trash/recycling collection)
  • City planning, buildings and development services (e.g., issuing permits)
  • Overall effectiveness of city communication with the public

ETC also compared Cincinnati to similar-sized cities across the country; by that metric, Cincinnati is about average for resident satisfaction as a place to live, work and raise children. Cincinnati is below average for how safe residents feel in their neighborhoods, overall image of the city and quality of public transportation.
The results are aggregated into six "neighborhood zones" for the city, with all 52 neighborhoods represented in one of the zones.

Respondents living on the West Side are less satisfied with city services, feel less safe in their neighborhoods, and are less satisfied with police services.

Overall, 39% of residents are dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the city's overall efforts to prevent crime, and 42% are unsatisfied with enforcement of local traffic laws.

"I'm sure this police chief is doing everything they can to prevent crime in the city of Cincinnati," Murray said. "But we should engage and let residents know what those strategies are and what it is that we are doing. And it's likely most residents just don't understand all of the details or haven't been engaged in the appropriate way to give us more positive ratings with some of these items."

A majority of residents are dissatisfied with the perception of honesty and fair dealings in development; dissatisfied with adequate quantify of affordable housing units; and dissatisfied with the city's efforts to build affordable housing units.

This is the first survey of its kind conducted in Cincinnati. ETC has done this type of research in more than 1,000 cities and counties in 43 states. Murray says a city of this size should update the research every one to two years, using the 2022 results as a baseline to measure improvement.

An interactive dashboard with the survey results is available on the ETC website here.

Full results of the survey are available on the city's website:

Local Government Reporter with a particular focus on Cincinnati; experienced journalist in public radio and television throughout the Midwest. Enthusiastic about: civic engagement, public libraries, and urban planning.