A new poll released February 28 suggests that having a decent, affordable place to live is a growing priority for Americans even as the declining housing market may be decreasing concerns about the rising cost of housing in their communities.
The proportion of people who responded that having an affordable place to live was the top priority for their own family increased from 34% to 38%. In this vein, the number for whom affordable housing was not on their family’s list of priorities declined from 6% to 4% in those years.
Despite the increased priority of housing within families, the number of people responding that affordable issue is a very important issue in their community declined nearly 7 points from 63% in 2007 to 56% in 2008. When asked whether housing policy was on the right track to provide a “decent home and suitable living environment for every American family, slightly higher proportion said it was - 42% in 2008 compared to 39% in 2007.
Similarly, “a candidate’s ideas on how to provide affordable housing in this country” are perhaps somewhat less important in selecting a candidate, with 25% saying they are not very or not at all important this year compared to 23% in 2007.
It is important to note, these effects are small, and in 2008 housing affordability remains a strong policy priority for American families. Half of all Americans felt housing policy was on the wrong track, 74% said a candidates ideas on how to provide more affordable housing are important to them, and 69% said that they would be more likely to choose a candidate who articulated a detailed plan for providing affordable housing.
Still, if these trends are confirmed by further opinion research, they seem to suggest that while the current turmoil in housing markets has increased Americans’ personal concerns about housing and the stability of their own tenure they do not view the current foreclosure crisis as contributing to the “affordable housing crisis.” If anything, these results suggest news about falling prices may lead Americans to be somewhat less concerned specifically about affordability as a housing policy issue. This would be an important shift for advocates to understand.
The poll was released by the Housing America Campaign, of which NLIHC is a participant. The Housing America Campaign is a coalition of public, private and non-profit advocacy groups. The target sample for the Survey was 1,215 adults and it was conducted from 2/13/08-2/16/08. The margin of error for the results discussed here is is +/- 2.9 percentage points. Charts with the current poll results can be found at http://www.nahro.org/pressroom/2008/poll.pdf.