By Joe Garvey

Hampton Roads residents have a dimmer view of the region’s quality of life and healthcare, mixed perceptions about the local economy, and positive feelings about the impact of immigration.

Those are among the findings of Old Dominion University’s 14th annual Life in Hampton Roads survey conducted by the Social Science Research Center (SSRC). A total of 610 telephone surveys were completed between June 6 and Aug. 25, 2023. Data was weighted to match a city’s population distribution on several variables including race, Hispanic ethnicity, age and gender, along with telephone type (cell only versus land line).

“We are pleased to continue to provide this annual snapshot of what residents think about what it is like to work, live and play in Hampton Roads,” said Tancy Vandecar-Burdin, SSR director. “The results can help identify areas of focus for policymakers and other leaders as they work to improve the quality of life for all residents in the region.”

The survey consists of six chapters: Quality of Life; Attitudes Towards Police; Attitudes Towards Immigration; The Economy and Employment; Politics and Political Opinions; and Health, Climate and Education.

Among some of the key findings:

  • Less than two-thirds of respondents rated the quality of life in the region as excellent or good (62.3%). This is lower than last year (69.3%) and lower than most previous non-COVID years (ranging from 68% to 71% between 2017-2019). However, respondents rated the quality of life in their city and their neighborhood higher than they did for the region as a whole.
  • While respondents’ rating of the local economy as excellent or good was similar to last year, there is underlying uneasiness. More than 64% said now is a bad time to buy a house, more than 70% strongly agreed or agreed that affordable childcare is a problem in Hampton Roads (71%) and that there is not enough affordable housing (77.7%). More than one in five respondents said they had been concerned they would not be able to pay their rent or mortgage in the past 12 months.
  • When it comes to healthcare in Hampton Roads, just under two-thirds (63.5%) of respondents rated the quality as excellent (21.4%) or good (42.1%). This is much lower than last year, when 73.6% of respondents rated the quality of care as excellent or good.
  • Regarding immigration, 71.2% of respondents felt immigrants (legal or otherwise) would not take jobs away from people in Hampton Roads, 69.2% agreed/strongly agreed that immigration is generally good for the local economy and 73.8% disagree/strongly disagreed that immigrants increase crime rates here.

The survey results were compiled by Tancy Vandecar-Burdin, SSRC director; Randy Gainey, professor of sociology and criminal justice; Jesse Richman, professor of political science; Wendi Wilson-John, SSRC senior project coordinator; doctoral candidate MacKenzie Kibler; and graduate research assistants Nana Boateng and Caylin Smith.

The complete 2023 Life in Hampton Roads survey is available at this link.