Mayors Identify Lack of Affordable Housing as Major Concern in New Survey

The Boston University Initiative on Cities released the results of its 2017 survey of 115 mayors of cities with at least 75,000 residents. Fifty-one percent of the mayors surveyed identified housing costs as one of the top three factors that prompts residents to move away from their city. Only 13% 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, 18% of mayors thought the housing stock met residents needs very well or extremely well.

When asked to identify the two top ways their city’s housing should change, 39% identified an increase in the availability of affordable multi-bedroom units, 36% identified an increase in homeownership rates, 30% identified a need to modernize or replace older housing stock, 17% identified an improvement in housing stability for renters, and 10% identified an increase in the availability of publicly subsidized housing.

When asked to identify the two biggest obstacles to improving access to housing for low income families, 50% of mayors cited a lack of state or federal funds. Only six percent identified zoning and land-use density restrictions as a significant obstacle.

The study’s researchers emphasized that the housing crunch is affecting cities of all types. “This is true of mayors of rich cities and poor cities and cities across the country,” said Katherine Levine Einstein, assistant professor of political science at Boston University who led the survey. 

The study was sponsored by Citi Community Development and the Rockefeller Foundation.

The Menino Survey of Mayors: 2017 Results is available at: