Surveyed Mayors Identify Affordable Housing as Major Concern
The Boston University Initiative on Cities recently released the results of its 2017 survey of 115 mayors of cities with at least 75,000 residents. The study was sponsored by Citi Community Development and the Rockefeller Foundation. The study found that 51 percent of the mayors surveyed identified housing costs as one of the top three factors that prompts residents to move away from their city. And only 13 percent of the mayors thought their city’s current housing stock matched residents’ housing needs very well or extremely well. Even in the least expensive cities, only 18 percent of mayors thought the housing stock met residents needs very well or extremely well.
The mayors had concerns about a wide range of housing-related problems. A midwestern mayor who responded to the survey said that “affordable housing is a beast”—an unwieldy issue at the local level as it rapidly grows. A southern mayor said there isn’t enough housing stock in the wake of the foreclosure crisis. A western mayor said that while people are concerned about the cost of housing, there’s also opposition to new units being built.
There were also regional differences to what mayors wanted. For example, mayors in the Northeast and Midwest said that their housing stock has to be modernized, while those in the West and South were less concerned.
When asked to identify the two top ways their city’s housing should change, 39 percent identified an increase in the availability of affordable multi-bedroom units, 36 percent identified an increase in homeownership rates, 30 percent identified a need to modernize or replace older housing stock, 17 percent identified an improvement in housing stability for renters, and 10 percent identified an increase in the availability of publicly subsidized housing.