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The University of Michigan DMACS: Detroit Metro Area Communities Study


The Detroit Metro Area Communities Study (DMACS) is a University of Michigan initiative designed to regularly survey a broad, representative group of Detroit residents about their communities, including their expectations, perceptions, priorities, and aspirations.

DMACS Mission: To engage residents and stakeholders in informing the city’s future by involving stakeholders in the prioritization, collection and dissemination of public opinion information that supports more meaningful and effective community development investments in and around Detroit.

DMACS Vision: Detroit leaders and residents can easily access and use scientifically sound public opinion data as they make policy, programmatic and investment decisions that affect their communities and the City of Detroit.

Amplifying Detroit Voices

As Detroit continues to evolve, residents’ opinions need to be part of the conversation about the city’s future.

Since 2016, University of Michigan’s Detroit Metro Area Communities Study has used a city-wide survey to help bridge the gap between Detroit officials and residents whose voices may not always be heard in public discussions.

Completed by a representative sample of more than 2,000 Detroiters, the ongoing DMACS survey provides valuable insights on the perceptions and attitudes of people who live and work in Detroit.

Topics covered include policing, trust in government, access to health care, perceptions of neighborhoods, transportation, race relations, and who benefits most from recent investments in the city.

Insights from each wave of the survey can inform city policies and community programming to produce better outcomes for Detroit residents.

What Sets DMACS Apart?

Following scientific survey methods, the randomly-selected survey participants make up a representative sample that reflects the general population of the City of Detroit.

This means the DMACS survey includes the views of typically hard-to-reach populations.

Different groups experience changes within the city differently, so it’s important the survey reaches people from a variety of age groups, races, income levels, residents from all city council districts, newcomers as well as longtime residents, renters and homeowners.

Survey partners have included the Kresge Foundation, Detroit Health Department, Knight Foundation, Michigan State Housing Development Authority, New Economy Initiative, Community Development Foundation for Southeast Detroit, City of Detroit, and the Strategic Neighborhoods Fund.

DMACS outreach team

2019 Summer Field Team, L to R: Liam Beers, Curtis Lee, Maria Matta, Mary Mazur, Jay Cutler, Megan Epskamp, Ellington Smith, Betty Brooks

Our Approach

  • DMACS conducts periodic surveys of Detroit residents that ask about their experiences, perceptions, opinions, and aspirations for their neighborhood, the city, and the region.
  • Each survey wave has a main theme.
  • Survey data is collected from online and phone surveys with the help of community residents.

Topic Areas

DMACS surveys cover a range of topics, with more being explored.

  • Community Health
  • Housing
  • Economic Opportunity & Entrepreneurship
  • Neighborhood Priorities for Change
  • Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Our Research Leads

Elisabeth Gerber, Ph.D.

Elisabeth Gerber, Ph.D.

Jack L. Walker, Jr. Professor of Public Policy

Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy
University of Michigan

Jeffrey Morenoff, Ph.D.

Jeffrey Morenoff, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Sociology

Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy
Population Studies Center
Survey Research Center
University of Michigan

Mara Ostfeld

Mara Ostfeld, Ph.D.

Assistant Research Scientist

Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy
University of Michigan

Our Staff

Sharon Sand

Sharon Sand

Project Manager

Yucheng Fan

Yucheng Fan

Data Manager

Lydia Wileden

Lydia Wileden

Research Associate

Contact Us

[email protected]