Survey: More than Half of Americans Support Pro-Housing Policies, But Only 27% Support Density in Their Neighborhood

by Real estate financingMission+
5 minutes read

61% of Biden voters think the government should provide down-payment assistance to working-class families buying their first home, compared with 43% of Trump voters.

Over half of U.S. residents (56%) think the government should provide incentives for builders to build more housing, but less than half as many (27%) support zoning policies that would allow more dense housing in their own neighborhood. This is according to an early October Redfin survey of over 3,000 U.S. adults.

People who are voting for Joe Biden were more likely to support government programs for housing, with 61% supporting down payment assistance, 73% supporting incentives for low income housing, and 66% supporting incentives for creating any type of housing. However, when it comes to zoning for density in their own neighborhood, just 32% of Biden voters said that they support such policies.

Trump voters were less likely to support any of the three pro-housing policies we asked about, with just 43% in favor of down-payment assistance and 49% supporting incentives for low-income housing or any kind of housing. Only 24% of Trump voters support policies that make more dense housing possible in their neighborhood.

“Housing is one of the few types of policies that does not fall neatly into liberal or conservative camps,” said Redfin chief economist Daryl Fairweather. “While many Americans across both major parties can agree that there’s a need for more housing–particularly affordable housing–both Democrats and Republicans are reluctant to see their own neighborhoods become more dense. This will be a challenge for those elected into local, state and federal offices next week, but hopefully politicians will work together to create bipartisan housing reforms like down payment assistance or incentives to build more affordable homes.”

Biden Voters Much More Supportive of Government Housing Programs

Construction of multi-family housing in the U.S. is more lop-sided. According to U.S. Census building permit data, 56% of the building permits granted to builders in Democratic-leaning “blue” counties over the last four years were for multifamily housing projects, compared with 31% in swing “purple” counties and 16% in Republican-leaning “red” counties.

Most New Homes Being Built in Democratic Counties are Multifamily Units

Support for down-payment assistance was predictably high among renters, with 62% in support compared to just 48% among homeowners. However, renters were not much more likely than homeowners to support government incentives for low-income or other types of housing, with support from both groups ranging between 55% and 61%. Renters were also mostly opposed to density in their own neighborhood, with just 31% supporting the idea, compared to 26% of homeowners.

Even Most Renters Don't Support Pro-Density Zoning Policies in Their Own Neighborhood


Methodology

Redfin surveyed over 3,000 U.S. residents aged 18 and up between October 7 and October 15, 2020. The demographics of the survey sample were on par with U.S. Census breakdowns for age, gender, race, and geography in order to match as closely as possible to the makeup of the general population. In addition to the questions explicitly quoted in the above charts, respondents were asked who they plan to vote for in the 2020 U.S. presidential election (Biden led in our survey 49% to 43%), as well as whether they own or rent the house they live in.Results from following questions and answer choices were included in this report:

  1. “Which of the following most closely aligns with your view on down payment assistance?”
    • “The government should not provide down payment assistance to working-class families buying their first home”
    • “The government should provide down payment assistance to working-class families buying their first home”
    • “I don’t know.”
  2. “Which of the following most closely aligns with your view on government incentives to create low income housing?”
    • “The government should not provide incentives for low income housing.”
    • “The government should provide incentives for low income housing.”
    • “I don’t know.”
  3. “Which of the following most closely aligns with your view on government incentives for builders to create more housing (of any type)?
    • “The government should not provide incentives for low income housing.”
    • “The government should provide incentives to builders to create housing.”
    • “I don’t know.”
  4. “Which of the following best reflects your opinion of policies that either reduce or enhance zoning restrictions on the density of housing that can be built near where you live?”
    • “I support zoning policies that limit the number of dense housing units, such as multi-family homes, that can be built near where I live.”
    • “I support zoning policies that make it possible for more dense housing units, such as multi-family homes, to be built near where I live.”
    • “I don’t know.”

Counties were classified as “blue” for the building permit analysis if the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate won by more than 10 percentage points. They were classified as “red” if the 2016 Republican candidate won by more than 10 percentage points. Finally, counties were classified as “purple” if neither 2016 candidate won by more than a 10 percentage-point margin.

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