Mayors Identify Lack of Affordable Housing as Major Concern

Boston University Menino Survey of Mayors Identifies Affordable Housing as Top Issue

The Boston University Initiative on Cities released the results of its 2017 Menino Survey of Mayors which included 115 mayors of cities with at least 75,000 residents which identified lack of affordable housing as a major issue.

  • Fifty-one percent of the mayors surveyed identified the lack of affordable housing 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  housing especially multi-bedroom units,
  • 36% identified an increase in home-ownership 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.

New Jersey faces a housing affordability crisis with high and increasing rents. Housing costs in the state consume an ever growing share of income.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC)’s annual 2017 Out of Reach report found that New Jersey is the seventh most expensive state to rent a two bedroom apartment out of the 50 United States and Washington, DC.

“NJ continues to be increasingly un-affordable for renters, as rents continue to rise but wages don’t,” said Staci Berger, executive director of the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey.

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

Menino Survey of Mayors

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