Poll: Housing costs are the main concern of city dwellers

The costs of housing and homelessness in US cities are so bad that residents of growing metropolitan areas now seem more concerned about these issues than Covid-19, public safety, taxes, education and jobs, according to a new survey conducted by the Manhattan Institute and Echelon Insights.

The survey interviewed 4,000 adults from August 11 to 20, sampling 200 people each in the “20 metropolitan areas with the highest digital population growth from 2010 to 2019”.

Manhattan Institute and Echelon Insights

This survey takes place after more than a year of soaring house prices. The Case-Shiller Index, a leading measure of home prices in the United States, shown in june that prices had increased 18.6 percent from the previous year. According to The data From the US Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development aggregated by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, the median selling price in the last quarter of 2019 was $ 327,100. By the second quarter of 2021, that number had reached $ 374,900.

“It’s no surprise that housing affordability is the number one issue in America,” said Michael Hendrix, senior researcher at the Manhattan Institute, a free market think tank. “What surprised me was the intensity, the priority that housing affordability and the cost of living in general for people who fit in these fast growing subways. It wasn’t just a San Francisco or New York issue, it is becoming more and more prevalent.

In attractive metropolitan areas, the situation is even more dramatic. According to data from Redfin, Phoenix has recorded a median selling price increase of 24.1% over the past year. The supply of housing fell 44.9% in San Francisco over the same period. And the locals are noticing it. In the Manhattan Institute poll, 64% of people in fast-growing urban areas said they were extremely or very concerned about the cost of housing. The survey has a margin of sampling error of plus / minus 2.3 percentage points and includes some respondents in less dense communities in metropolitan areas.

Unlike most national housing affordability surveys, this one asked respondents what solutions they would implement in their cities. Two-thirds strongly or somewhat support authorization to ‘build more housing near transit stops’, an important solution, as transit-oriented development is needed to create affordable, walkable and respectful neighborhoods. of the climate.

But, more importantly, the survey found that residents of growing metropolitan areas are in favor of making it easier to build more homes. Sixty-eight percent agreed they would support “speeding up and streamlining the approval process so that it is easier to start building more housing” in their city. Only 20 percent say they strongly or somewhat oppose it. This, finally, helps get to the root of the problem.

American cities have seen such a sharp increase in housing affordability largely due to a dangerously low housing supply, especially affordable housing. One of the main reasons is that state and local governments have artificially limited the supply of housing through zoning ordinances and a local government process that results in costly delays. By requiring things like minimum lot sizes or holding public meetings where developers are forced to defend the construction of multi-family dwellings, these laws often make it illegal or uneconomic to build small starter homes or multi-family homes that would be more affordable compared to large houses that are built in their place.

These laws are often supported and enforced by a minority of vocal homeowners who are more likely to attend local government meetings to oppose new real estate developments – and local officials who prioritize those voices. Commonly referred to as NIMBY (Not In My Backyard), vocal individuals like this often have an inordinate influence despite research showing they are not representative of the communities for which they claim to speak.

Manhattan Institute and Echelon Insights

Of course, not everyone sees the situation that way. While survey respondents were overwhelmingly in favor of making it easier to build more homes, they don’t necessarily see this as the best answer to the affordability crisis.

When asked to choose between two statements explaining the problem, 55% of respondents chose the explanation that “there are houses available, but they are too expensive for workers and the middle class to rent or rent.” to buy. State and local governments must subsidize the construction of more affordable housing. Only 30 percent agreed with the claim that house prices are high because there are not enough units and the solution would be to make it easier to build more units.

And it is possible that people will oppose specific new housing projects in their communities, even if they agree with the general principle that building more housing in their city is a good thing.

But this poll is further proof that anger over the lack of new affordable housing has reached its peak. Residents want more affordable housing built in their cities. They promote development focused on public transit. They very much want the government to subsidize the construction of more affordable housing. And they are in favor of making it easier to build more houses.

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About Robert Valdivia

Robert Valdivia

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