VoiceGR 2014 Survey Results

VoiceGR is a community survey that aims to assess greater Grand Rapids residents’ attitudes, perceptions, and opinions. The survey asks demographic questions in addition, with the goal of disaggregating data to prompt conversation about disparities. The 2014 VoiceGR survey was collected between September 15 and December 1, 2014. The Community Research Institute selects a core group of questions to ask each year and also partners with a select number of local nonprofit organizations to include questions that they are interested in. View all of the questions asked on the 2014 VoiceGR survey. VoiceGR is collected using mixed methods – paper surveys collected at community events and door-to-door and online surveys distributed in a variety of ways. To learn more, click VoiceGR methodology.

CRI chose five neighborhoods in Grand Rapids and partnered with LINC Neighborhood Revitalization to collect surveys door-to-door in those neighborhoods. The 2014 target neighborhoods were Black Hills, Grandville, John Ball, West Grand, and Garfield Park. To explore the data on these neighborhoods and other geographic groups, visit our interactive mapping tool and our data visualization tool. CRI will continue to expand our efforts to increase resident participation in various neighborhoods.

The primary goal of VoiceGR is to provide objective data to residents, nonprofits, governments, businesses, and other decision makers regarding the perceptions and needs of the community. The hope is to provide easily accessible data to inform decisions. A key to making informed decisions is disaggregating data. Disaggregation refers to splitting results as a whole into their subgroups, such as splitting by racial/ethnic groups or genders to look for differences between groups. If we only look at whole city or county level survey results, we fail to see the diversity in the experiences and perceptions of the various subgroups of the population. As you view the VoiceGR results, you will see that survey results are first presented at the aggregate (all VoiceGR respondents) level, and then broken down into various disaggregated levels including race/ethnicity, gender, education level, and geography. Click on the various topic areas below to view the 2014 VoiceGR results.

Key Findings

  • 80% of respondents overall rate Grand Rapids as an A or B as a place to live. Ratings of ‘A’ vary from 20% for those who live in the Southwest to 36% for those who live in the Northeast part of Grand Rapids. Similarly, when broken down by race, ratings of ‘A’ vary from 14% for Hispanic or Latino residents, to 17% for Black or African American (Non-Hispanic) residents, and 36% for White (Non-Hispanic) residents.
  • 76% of VoiceGR respondents say they can afford to meet their needs very or fairly well based on their current income. This same statistic ranges greatly by race, from 62% for Hispanic or Latino respondents to 83% for Asian or Pacific Islander (Non-Hispanic) respondents. This also varies by education level, with 53% of those with less than a high school education reporting being able to meet their needs compared to 88% of those with a bachelor’s degree or higher.
  • Of those who can’t meet their basic needs, utilities were the most common need worried about (28%), followed by food (21%), shelter (20%), and health care (17%).
  • 41% of respondents say they feel very safe in their neighborhood, and 37% say they feel somewhat safe. 31% of respondents say their neighborhood is very safe for children, and 39% say it is somewhat safe, indicating that respondents are more likely to say their neighborhood is safe for adults than for children.
  • While 25% of VoiceGR respondents report not having a primary care physician (often called a “medical home”), breaking this down by race shows vast differences. 42% of Hispanic respondents, 32% of Black or African American (Non-Hispanic) respondents, and only 19% of White (Non-Hispanic) respondents do not have a medical home. Similarly, 35% of those with a high school diploma or GED do not have a medical home, compared to 18% of those with a bachelor’s degree or higher and of those who are below the 200% poverty level 72% do not have a medical home.
  • 11% of respondents say racism is very much an issue in their community and 33% say it is somewhat of an issue. 33% report feeling discriminated against in the last year.
  • 27% of respondents say the economy/jobs should be the top area for improvement in their community. 24% say crime and public safety should be the top area for improvement and 23% said transportation.
  • 42% of respondents report owning the place where they live, while 44% rent. Respondents with a high school diploma or GED are more than twice as likely to report having ever experienced homelessness as those with a bachelor’s degree or higher.


Take a closer look at how greater Grand Rapids residents say their basic needs are met. Basic needs include food, clothing, shelter, utilities, and healthcare. 

See the proportion of Grand Rapids residents who said that they had asked for assistance or expressed their opinions to a public official.

View demographic information collected in the survey such as gender, race/ethnicity, income, and education level. 

Understand how greater Grand Rapids residents said they donated their time, money, or both. 

Grand Rapids residents were asked about their literacy and learning needs. 

Employment status and employee benefits were asked of Greater Grand Rapids residents. 

Greater Grand Rapids residents were asked to grade both their specific neighborhood and greater Grand Rapids, as a whole, as a place to live.

Greater Grand Rapids residents were asked to provide their opinion on how well they rate their health, what kinds of health condition(s) they may have, and their accessibility to healthcare and healthcare insurance.

Learn how greater Grand Rapids residents felt about shopping at locally owned businesses.

See responses about racism and discrimination asked of Greater Grand Rapids residents.

How safe do greater Grand Rapids residents feel in their neighborhoods? This topic area explores questions about home ownership, renting, eviction, and homelessness as well as opinions from greater Grand Rapids residents if they plan to remain living in the community or not. 


VoiceGR is a product of the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy.

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