Survey reveals what Montgomery County residents think about housing, child care, traffic

By wide margins, Montgomery County, Maryland, residents say it’s a great place to live, work and raise a family — even as frustrations mount over the lack of affordable housing, child care and reliable transportation.

Those are the key takeaways of a new independent survey of residents released Monday by Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich’s office.

Overall, about 85% of Montgomery County residents feel positively about the quality of life in Maryland’s most populous county. Even more — 90% — say Montgomery County is a good place to live. About 86% of residents say the county is a good place to raise children.

Across all those measures and many others, residents’ feelings are slightly more positive than in 2007, the first year the countywide survey on “livability” was conducted.

“The results of the 2019 Montgomery County Resident Survey clearly illustrate two overwhelming perspectives: more people than ever feel that the quality of life in our county continues to improve and that this is a place people want to live,” Elrich said in a statement.

At the same time, there were less-than-stellar marks when residents were asked to rate their feelings about Montgomery County as a place to retire, and when residents were asked about the availability of affordable quality child care and housing.

Just 43% of residents responded positively when asked to rate the county as a place to retire. That figure has barely ticked up from 41% in 2007.

And while most residents had positive feelings about a range of economic indicators in the county, just 22% of residents gave positive responses when asked to evaluate the cost of living.

On the topic of education overall, 85% of residents provided positive responses. But only about half that — 44% — felt similarly upbeat about the availability of affordable child care and pre-kindergarten.

Rating even more poorly was affordable housing, where just 25% of survey respondents gave positive ratings. That’s up from 15% in 2007, but still among the county’s lowest overall scores.

And the survey shows concerns about access to housing affordability are growing.

Nearly half of county residents — 48% — said housing affordability has gotten worse in the past two years. Another 38% said it has stayed about the same. Just 14% said it has gotten better.

In his statement, Elrich acknowledged room for improvement in some of the survey findings.

“Yes, some questions in the survey show where we must continue to make improvements, and our government will be strongly addressing those concerns,” he said. “But the survey definitely says we are providing a way of life that our residents desire, and I pledge to keep us heading in that direction.”

On the issue of transportation, clear majorities are feeling some frustration. Well more than half of residents — 62% — said they think traffic has gotten worse in the past two years. And the percentage of residents who had positive feelings abut the ease of travel by public transportation sank from 60% in 2007 to 51% this year.

The 39-question survey was carried out by the National Research Center. The group previously conducted countywide surveys in 2007, 2007, 2009 and 2017.

The survey asked adult residents how they felt about quality of life in the county, amenities and facilities offered by the county, whether they take advantage of county programs and even their impressions of county employees.

The survey was sent to 5,000 households in the county; the group received responses from 954 households.

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