From October 6-14,2022, the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center conducted a statewide survey of Oregonians’ feelings about neighborliness and community. A description of the methodology used for the research is provided below.
The question numbers in this document correspond with the survey questionnaire (Q1-11b). Due to rounding, the percentages reported below may not add to 100% or compare exactly to the percentages for the same question in the annotated questionnaire or tabs.Subgroup variations between BIPOC and white Oregonians; rural and urban residents; and between age groups have been of particular interest to individuals and organizations and are provided in the Demographic Trends section below.
What do “Neighborliness” and “Community” Mean to You?
In October of 2022, OVBC asked Oregonians what neighborliness and community mean to them, and whether they see these characteristics within their own neighborhoods and communities. The survey started with half the sample being asked what “neighborliness means to them, while the other half were asked what a “sense of community” means to them.
For “neighborliness,” Oregonians talkaout neighbors being kind and respectful to each other; saying hello; and supporting, helping, and looking out for one another (Q1).
“Welcoming new neighbors, giving a smile when out for a walk, keeping an eye out for those who need help and when they are gone on vacation, taking the time to say hello and visit for a minute or two.”Woman, age 65-74, Lane County, White
“Looking out for people, picking up packages, greeting each other, sharing harvest.”Woman, age 45-54, Washington County, Asian
“Neighborliness is being cordial, looking out for your neighbors’ property in their absence.”Man, age 30-44, Multnomah County, Black or African American
Sense of Community
When asked what “sense of community” means to them, Oregonians talk about caring for one another and cultivating a shared sense of values and interests (Q2).
“A sense of community means people taking care of each other and working together around a shared aspect of life, whether that be where they live or a common interest or identity.”Non-binary or gender non-conforming person, age 30-44, Multnomah County, White
“A shared place, culture, values or ways of living that generates a unifying feeling or understanding of belonging together.”Woman, age 45-55, Multnomah County, Hispanic/Latina/x
“For me, community means a town’s or a city’s population that works together to make it a better place.”Man, age 18-29, Lincoln County, Hispanic/Latino/x and White
Real-Life Examples of Neighborliness
The survey then asked the full sample to share examples of “neighborliness” where they live. Anecdotes often follow common themes, including exchangining gifts or chores, going the extra mile, and helping out in a pinch. “Checking in” is common, particularly in the face of exceptional challenges like extreme weather events, or if someone is sick, elderly, or experiencing a period of disability (Q3).
“Our neighbor made jam and brought it over after watching our house while we were gone. We reciprocated sourdough starter and a a loaf of bread and a lovely stop at their house.”
Man, age 55-64, Wasco County, White
“Snowstorm caused my tree to lose a few limbs while I was away on vacation. My neighbor cleaned it up for me. Another neighbor helped me fix my car, and gifts me sake on holidays. A neighbor always gives me produce from her garden.”Woman, age 30-44, Columbia County, Hispanic/Latina/x and White
“This family helps me rake leaves and shovel snow or ice when needed. Another resident and I will walk dogs when asked, and so on. It may not sound like much, but small favors pay big dividends in the neighborhood.”Woman, age 75+, Deschutes County, White
“We work together to make our neighborhood look good!“Man, age 18-29, Yamhill County, Black or African American and White
“My neighbor and I always help each other with projects like clearing brush, loan tools, and manpower whenever we can.”Woman, age 65-74, Multnomah County, Native American, American Indian, or Alaska Native
People Talk to and Help One Another in Oregon Neighborhoods
The next section of the survey asked about five neighborhood characteristics.
Most Oregonians (65%) agree that the people in their neighborhoods talk to/help one another (Q5).
Only 9% of Oregonians say that this doesn’t happen in their neighborhood at all.
- Men (68%) tend to agree with this statement more often than women (62%).
- Residents with at least some college education report people talking to and helping one another out in their neighborhoods more often than those with a high school education or less (66%-71% compared to 58%).
- 78% of Oregonians with $100,000 or more in annual income say this is true of their neighborhood compared to 56% of those making $50,000 or less, and 70% of those who make $50,000-$100,000 per year.
- Democrats (70%) are more likely than their Independent (60%) counterparts to agree with this description.
Oregonians Trust the People in their Neighborhoods
65% of Oregonians also feel they can trust their neighbors (Q6).
- Men (69%) are more likely than women (62%) to say they can trust their neighbors.
- Financial security seems to play a role in who feels they can trust their neighbors, with 76% of those who own their homes and 81% of those with household incomes of $100,000 or more a year saying they can trust people in their neighborhood, compared to 54% of those who rent their homes, and 55% of those with household incomes of $50,000 or less per year.
- Higher levels of formal education are associated with more trust in one’s neighbors. 76% of Oregonians with at least a college degree say they can trust people in their neighborhood, compared to 67% of those with some college under their belt, and 54% of those with a high school education or less.
- Compared to rest of the state, residents of Multnomah County report lower levels of trust in their neighbors (67% compared to 58%).
If They Needed Help, Neighbors Would Be There
Oregonians believe that if they needed help, people in their neighborhood would help them (64%) (Q7).
- Once again, men (69%) are more likely than women (60%) to say their neighbors would help them.
- Those with more financial security are more confident their neighbors would help them out if needed, with 73% of those who own their homes and 73% of those with household incomes of $100,000 or more saying there people in their neighborhood would help, compared to 56% of those who rent and 56% of those with household incomes of $50,000 or less. 70% of Oregonians with an annual income between $50,000 and $100,000 believe their neighbors would help them.
- Seven in ten Oregonians with college degrees say there are people in their neighborhood to help them if needed (70%), compared to 59% of those with high school educations or less.
- Both Democrats (69%) and Republicans (67%) are more likely than Independents (59%) to say they could count on their neighbors to help.
Are There Opportunities to Socialize?
Oregonians are less confident their neighbors would be there if they wanted company or to socialize, but a slim majority say this describes their neighborhood dynamic (52%) (Q8).
- Men are more likely than women to feel there are people in their neighborhood they can call on or socialize with when craving company (59% compared to 46%).
- Oregonians with a household income of $100,000 or more are especially likely to say this describes their neighborhood compared to those with less annual income, and even most other demographic categories (63%, compared to 45%-56% of those with household incomes of $100,000 or less).
Only 43% of Oregonians say there are places to sit and chat in their neighborhoods (Q4).
The lack of space for casual socializing appears to be a widespread problem; there is no demographic category for which a majority say there are places to sit and chat in their neighborhood (37%-48%).
Men (46%) are more likely than women (39%), to say there are places to sit and chat, and Democrats say there are places for this in their neighborhood more often than Independents (46% vs. 39%), but most groups are equally likely to say these social spaces can be found in their neighborhoods.
Oregonians Help and Support One Another
About 60% of Oregonians have given everyday help or support to someone outside of their family or household (i.e., supporting someone emotionally, or offering practical help like childcare, shopping, or a ride) (Q9).
Across all demographic categories, Oregonians are just about equally likely to offer help or support to someone other than family, with very few exceptions.
Oregonians with school-aged children are especially likely to have lent someone a helping hand, with 68% saying they’ve done so during the past week, compared to 56% of Oregonians who do not have school-aged children.
People making $50,000 to $100,000 per year are the income group most likely to have given someone help or support during the past week, while top earners ($100K or more) and those making less than $50,000 are about equally likely to have given someone help (56% and 57%, respectively).
Oregonians are about evenly split between those who have recently received help or support from someone outside their family (47%), and those who have not (49%) (Q10).
There are few to no differences among Oregonians when it comes to receiving help or support from others.
Have Neighborhoods Improved or Worsened Over the Past Year?
About a quarter of Oregonians (24%) feel their neighborhood has become a better place to live over the past year compared to 17% who feel it has become a worse place (Q11).
Overall, most Oregonians feel that their neighborhood has neither improved nor worsened over the past year, but rather stayed about the same (59%).
Two-thirds of those Oregonians who hold at least a four-year degree or make at least $100,000 per year say their neighborhood has stayed the same (67%), compared to 55% to 56% of those with some college or less, and 56% to 58% of those making under $100,000.
People who own their homes are more likely than renters to say their neighborhood has stayed the same (63% vs. 53%). More renters (22%) than homeowners (13%) feel their neighborhood has gotten worse
More Oregonians without children say their neighborhood has stayed the same (60%, compared to 54% of those with school-aged children), while Oregonians with school-aged children are a bit more likely than those without to report their neighborhood has become a better place to live over the past year (30% compared to 22%).
Men (28%) are more likely than women (20%) to say their neighborhood has improved in the past year.
Improvements Over the Past Year
For Oregonians who report their community has become a better place to live over the last year, people mostly share about physical improvements: landscaping, neighbors giving their homes a facelift, or things done by complexes or the city like fixing roads and painting buildings. Some mention more kindness between community members (Q11a).
“I live in a condo complex, and the Board has taken several steps to improve the surroundings with improved maintenance and landscaping.”Man, age 65-74, Clackamas County, White
“The people on my street are more invested in making sure issues like potholes and traffic are getting addressed by the city administration.”Man, age 45-54, Multnomah County, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander
“We’re more connected now in many respects. We’re working on some challenges and trying to respect each others’ perspectives.”Woman, age 65-74, Lane County, White
Some Have Experienced Their Neighborhood Becoming Worse Over the Last Year
Conversely, for Oregonians who report their community has become a worse place to live over the last year, comments are overwhelmingly about homelessness. Other reasons people give include crime, increases in congestion, too many people moving in, and cost of living increases (Q11b).
“More homeless people camping out nearby, drug affected, unstable people talking to themselves outside the grocery store, drag racing up & down the streets all hours of the night, etc.”Woman, age 55-64, Multnomah County, White
“There’s a lot more nearby violence. Some unappealing residents have moved in.”Man, age 30-44, Multnomah County, White
“We got a new landlord who is trying to price out residents, which creates an oldies vs. newbies atmosphere.”Woman, age 30-44, Benton County, White
“A lot of violence and drugs coming to my neighborhood.”Man, age 18-29, Josephine County, Hispanic/Latino/x and White
Identifying What Unites Us, Understanding What Divides Us
Reported below are statistically significant subgroup differences between BIPOC and white Oregonians, urban and rural Oregonians, and age groups. Many of these differences are not major and are presented to inform public education and communications initiatives.
This survey uses aggregated data to analyze the opinions of BIPOC residents in comparison to the opinions of residents who identify as white and not another race. BIPOC residents are not a monolith; the grouping represents a wide diversity of races and ethnicities. The findings included in this memo should not be construed such that all people of color are believed to share the same opinions. Disaggregated race data will be provided when sample sizes permit reliability.
People aged 65 and over generally give their neighborhoods high marks for characteristics one might associate with a “good neighborhood.”
Oregonians aged 65 and older are more likely than those under 65 to say each of the following characteristics of their neighborhood:
- People talk to and help one another (65+: 75%-79%; under 65: 56%-67%) (Q5).
- They can trust people in their neighborhood (65+: 82%-86%; under 65: 54%-68%) (Q6).
- If they wanted company or to socialize, there are people they can call on (65+: 60%-64%; under 65: 49%) (Q8).
- If they needed help, there are people who would be there for them (65+: 76%-84%; under 65: 57%-65%) (Q7).
More Oregonians between the ages of 30 and 44 have helped someone outside their family during the past week (64%) compared to any other age group (Q9).
30-44-year-olds are also more likely to have school-aged children in their household. As previously noted, having one or more school-aged children in the home is associated with a greater likelihood of having offered this type of help or support. It therefore comes as no surprise that the second-most likely age group to have school-aged children in their household, those aged 45-54, are also the second-most likely to have given someone help or support recently (61%).
18-29-year-olds are the group most likely to hae received help or support from someone outside their family during the preceding week (52%), particularly compared ot 55-64-year-olds (39%) (Q10).
The majority of people aged 45 and older say their neighborhoods have pretty much stayed the same over the past year (63%-70%), but slightly fewer than half of those aged 18-44 say the same (48%) (Q11).
Most of these younger adults say their neighborhood has stayed the same, but they are more likely than their older counterparts to say their neighborhood has become a better (18-44: 30%-36%; 45+: 16%-19%).
When asked how their neighborhood has improved, these younger adults cite new neighbors bringing a positive and caring influence and people coming together to weather the challenges of the pandemic (Q11A):
“We’ve had additional, diverse families with children move into our neighborhood and that has helped the shared culture of the area and connection between neighbors.”Non-binary or gender non-conforming, age 30-44, Multnomah County, White
- 18-29-year-olds are the age group most likely to have received help or support from someone outside their family during the preceding week (52%), particularly compared to 55-64-year-olds (39%) (Q10).
- The majority of people aged 45 and older say their neighborhoods have pretty much stayed the same over the past year (63%-70%), but slightly fewer than half of those aged 18-44 say the same (48%) (Q11).
- Most of these younger adults say their neighborhood has stayed the same, but they are more likely than their older counterparts to say their neighborhood has become a better (18-44: 30%-36%; 45+: 16%-19%).
- When asked how their neighborhood has improved, these younger adults cite new neighbors bringing a positive and caring influence and people coming together to weather the challenges of the pandemic (Q11A):
“People looking out for each other.”Woman, age 18-29, Clackamas County, Asian, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, and White
“More people are moving in and building up their properties.”Non-binary or gender non-conforming, age 30-44, Klamath County, White
“Neighbors interact more, and folks are doing more house projects, so they’re out more. A lot of folks walk and ride bikes too, which makes the neighborhood feel both social and safe.”Woman, age 30-44, Linn County, White
BIPOC Oregonians and white Oregonians generally say these neighborhood characteristics describe their own neighborhoods at similar rates, with a few noteworthy exceptions (Q4-Q8).
BIPOC residents and white residents are about equally likely to say their neighborhoods have places to sit and chat (43%, each); people in their neighborhoods talk to and help one another (BIPOC: 63%; white: 66%); and if they want company, there’s a neighbor they can call on (BIPOC: 50%; white: 54%) (Q4,Q5,Q8).
BIPOC Oregonians are less likely than white Oregonians to say they can trust people in their neighborhood (59% compared to 67%) or that if they needed help, their neighbors would be there for them (BIPOC: 56%; white: 67%) (Q6,Q7).
When it comes to giving someone help or support during the previous week, BIPOC and white Oregonians are about equally likely to say they helped someone out (BIPOC: 63%; white: 57%) (Q9). BIPOC Oregonians report having received help from someone else at a slightly higher rate (53%, compared to 44%) (Q10).
White Oregonians (65%) are significantly more likely than BIPOC Oregonians (45%) to say their neighborhood has stayed about the same over the past year (Q11).
BIPOC Oregonians are more likely than white Oregonians to say both that their neighborhood has improved (33% vs. 21%) or that it has worsened (21% vs. 15%).
BIPOC Oregonians say things in their neighborhood have improved because people help and support one another and work together to make their neighborhood a better place (Q11A):
“It’s become nicer because people are moving and everyone is very nice.”Woman, age 18-29, Clatsop County, Hispanic/Latina/x and White
“Because we help each other out.”Woman, age 18-29, Columbia County, Black or African American
“The people on my street are more like invested in making sure issues like potholes and traffic are getting addressed by the city administration.”Man, age 45-54, Multnomah County, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander
“Affordable housing projects have gone up in my community, and people in them are willing to support each other.”Woman, age 65-74, Washington County, Native American, American Indian, or Alaska Native
When it comes to neighborhoods that have gotten worse over the past year, BIPOC Oregonians cite the same reasons as everyone else: crime and homelessness (Q11B):
“The city I live in has become a war zone. It is no longer a safe place to be.”Man, age 18-29, Clackamas County, Black or African American and White
“People are hateful towards each other and there has been an increase in violence. (Two police involved shootings, home break-ins, robberies, etc.) I don’t feel safe walking down the street without carrying a can of pepper spray at least!”Woman, age 55-64, Washington County, Black or African American
“Drug addicts and mentally ill folks have become much more evident. It does not feel as safe or pleasant as in the past.”Man, age 55-64, Multnomah County, Hispanic/Latino/x
Oregonians living in both urban and rural areas say people in their neighborhoods talk to and help one another (urban: 61%; rural: 67%) and that they have neighbors they can call on if they want some company (urban: 51%; rural: 52%). Other characteristics are significantly more likely to be found in either rural neighborhoods or rural neighborhoods (Q4-Q8).
Compared to those living in urban areas, people living in rural areas are more likely to say they can trust people in their neighborhoods (68%; urban: 55%) (Q6) and are more confident that their neighbors would be there for them if they needed help (68%; urban: 60%) (Q7).
It is not surprising, given the layout of urban areas, that urban residents report more places to sit and chat in their neighborhoods compared to rural residents (48% to 38%) (Q4).
There are no significant differences between rural and urban residents as to whether they have helped someone outside their family (rural: 55%; urban: 61%), or have received helped from someone (rural: 45%; urban: 48%) (Q9,Q10).
Rural residents are especially likely to say nothing has changed in their neighborhood over the past year (68%), compared to just barely half of all urban residents (51%) (Q11).
The other 49% of urban residents are evenly split between those who think their neighborhood has gotten better (25%), and those who think it has gotten worse (24%).
Residents of urban areas are more likely than people living in other areas, and particularly those living in rural areas, to say their neighborhood has gotten worse over the past year (urban: 24%; rural: 11%).
Just like the general population, people living in urban areas say that during the past year, crime and homelessness have made their neighborhoods worse (Q11B):
“More crime in the area. Street racing is killing people at night. People are reportedly getting killed almost weekly due to crime related to street racing.”Man, age 55-64, Washington County, White
“There are dozens of tents with homeless people, many people walking the street talking or screaming incoherently, and open injection drug use on the sidewalks.”Woman, age 65-74, Multnomah County, White
“The property crime from those outside the neighborhood has increased tremendously. I’ve had my car window broken, my catalytic converter stolen (they took the time to remove the catalytic shield that I paid money to have put on to prevent theft) and items stolen off of my porch. People in cars cruise the neighborhood looking for opportunities. Police don’t respond to these crimes. Neighbors are left to fend for themselves. We are all on edge when we see an unfamiliar vehicle. We feel preyed upon.”Woman, age 55-64, Multnomah County, White
Methodology: The online survey consisted of 1,926 Oregon residents ages 18+ and took approximately 15 minutes to complete. Respondents were contacted by using professionally maintained online panels. In gathering responses, a variety of quality control measures were employed, including questionnaire pre-testing, validation, and real-time monitoring of responses. To ensure a representative sample, demographic quotas were set, and data weighted by area of the state, gender, age, and education.
Statement of Limitations: Based on a 95% confidence interval, this survey’s margin of error, for the full sample is ±2.23%. Due to rounding or multiple answer questions, response percentages may not add up to 100%.