Despite Montgomery County seeing about a 50% decrease in its homeless count from January 2019 to January 2020, a recent survey of Conroe business owners indicated that their top concern is homelessness in downtown.

Conroe Downtown Manager Frank Robinson presented the findings from his survey—which was conducted between May 1 to June 15—to City Council on Aug. 27. The survey’s purpose was to measure opinions of business owners of downtown Conroe and to evaluate support for the general concepts of the Downtown Conroe Development Plan, Robinson said.

Robinson interviewed 76 individuals in the local retail, restaurant, entertainment and professional services spheres. He asked six closed questions and two open-ended questions.

In addition to affirming continued concerns around homelessness, the survey concluded that preserving Conroe’s history is important; that there is strong support for the general concepts of the development plan; that the business community wants the city to promote downtown and economic development; and that there is broad support for more retail, restaurants, pubs, entertainment and residential living, Robinson said.

Here are the results of the survey.

"Clearly, homelessness was the No. 1 concern of our business community," Robinson said. As for public safety, lighting and cleanliness, Robinson said the city received "good marks."

"I believe this indicator actually will improve as we work to implement the recommendations of the Downtown Conroe Development Plan and promote economic development," Robinson said, referring to Question 4.

"It’s interesting that there was less support for green spaces as compared to the other categories, and I will share with you that during my interviews, there was some perception that our parks downtown are an attraction for undesirable activity," Robinson said.

In the open-ended questions, which asked participants what they like the most and the least about downtown Conroe, most said they disliked the issue of homelessness the most, Robinson said. Survey respondents said they liked the friendliness and "hometown feel" of downtown the most.