The fifth edition of the Menino Survey of Mayors from Boston University’s “Initiative on Cities” found that mayors across the political spectrum identify high housing costs as one of the biggest obstacles to social mobility. Twenty percent of mayors agree that declining housing prices would be good for their city and 50% prefer to grow their city’s housing stock by less than 10% over the next 10 years.
The 2018 Menino Survey represents a nationally representative sample of 110 mayors of cities with populations greater than 75,000. Researchers used a combination of open- and closed-ended survey questions to gauge mayoral thoughts on various local policy issues. The survey aims to highlight the priorities of mayors regarding issues affecting cities.
Thirty-two percent of mayors identified a lack of living-wage jobs and 27% identified high housing costs as the biggest obstacle to social mobility. Twenty-seven percent of Democrats and 26% of Republicans cited high housing costs as the biggest obstacle, indicating bipartisan agreement about housing. Mayors of more expensive cities were more likely than those of less expensive cities to list high housing costs as the biggest obstacle by a margin of 27 percentage points.
Only 20% of mayors agreed that declining housing prices would be good for their cities. Sixty percent of Democrats and 61% of Republicans disagreed that declining prices would be good. In addition, 50% of mayors thought their cities needed to increase their city’s housing stock by less than 10% over the next 10 years. Twenty-three percent of mayors thought they needed 10% to 20% growth in the housing stock, 12% thought they needed 20% to 30% growth, and 15% thought they needed growth greater than 30%. Mayors of more expensive cities and of smaller cities were more likely to favor substantial growth of more than 20% in the housing stock.
When asked about how they thought new housing should be distributed across different types of housing, the mayors on average allocated 30% of the hypothetical new housing stock to single-family homes, 20% to mixed-use buildings, 18% to townhouses, 17% to market-rate apartments or condos, and 15% to subsidized apartments or condos.
The Menino Survey of Mayors is available at https://bit.ly/2RooUrU