What’s one thing we can all agree on?

The FWD #162  •  534 Words

Even today, Americans of all stripes want more investments in housing.

Common ground is hard to come across these days. Truly bipartisan issues seem to be going the way of the dodo. But there’s still one topic Americans have consistently agreed on—something that’s literally and figuratively close to home for us.

A recent poll by the National Low Income Housing Coalition and their Opportunity Starts at Home campaign found high levels of support for addressing affordable housing and the use of government funding to reduce the cost of housing. These results confirm a consistent phenomenon we’ve highlighted before: Americans want policymakers to fix our housing problems.

This go around, the poll revealed that:

  • “74% [of the 1,000 nationwide poll respondents] support policies that expand investments in housing development programs that will build more housing units that are affordable for low-income people. This is the majority view across the political spectrum: 88% of Democrats, 62% of Independents, and 65% of Republicans.”
  • Nearly 9 in 10 (89%) respondents—including 76% of Republicans—said that the role of government was important when it comes to making sure there is enough affordable housing. Only 11% said it was not important at all. 
  • Nearly 9 in 10 (89%) respondents—including 79% of Republicans—said that it was important to them personally that their elected officials work to make sure there is enough affordable housing available. Only 11% said it was not important at all.

This generic support for affordable housing is encouraging. But we know that opinions don’t change things on their own—actions do. Can Americans agree on how to address affordable housing?

For the most part, the answer is (surprisingly) yes. But (unsurprisingly) this is where partisanship begins to set in. A September poll from the Bipartisan Policy Center and the J. Ronald Terwilliger Center for Housing Policy found many specific housing policies that enjoyed significant support among Democrats and Republicans—along with others that were more polarizing.

Solutions receiving the highest levels of support included funding for seniors to age in place (86% support among Democrats and 73% among Republicans) and a first-time homebuyer tax credit (79% and 64%, respectively).

Solutions with the lowest overall support also had the largest gaps between parties. These included additional housing vouchers (75% support among Democrats, 36% among Republicans, and 57% total) and incentives for localities to remove restrictive land use barriers (66%, 45%, and 50% respectively).

Still, of the eleven policies asked in the poll, all received at least 50% overall support, with eight surpassing two-thirds total agreement. More than half of Republicans even voiced support for seven solutions, including investments in public housing repairs, funding for eviction prevention, and tax credits to build low-income housing.

We can see this “agreement in principle, slight disagreement on solutions” on full display in Washington… but maybe with a little more emphasis on the disagreement. Speaking in opposition to the Build Back Better infrastructure bill, which the Biden administration claims would be the single largest investment in affordable housing ever, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell still acknowledged the need to address rising housing costs.

So, at least for a moment, let’s look beyond the bickering and use Americans’ widespread support for housing to find confidence in our work. That elusive common ground may be closer than you think.

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