National Survey Finds Significant Support for Middle Income Housing, Smaller Lot Sizes
City Council aims to achieve both with HOME amendments
By Austin Sanders,
9:02AM, Fri. Dec. 1, 2023
One week before City Council votes on a suite of housing reforms intended to increase housing affordable to people in middle income brackets, a national Pew survey shows majority, bipartisan support for similar proposals.
“Most Americans support a roster of zoning policies intended to boost housing availability and affordability,” the authors of the report wrote, which they also described as “one of the largest surveys done on these issues.”
For the survey published yesterday, Nov. 30, pollsters interviewed more than 5,000 people across the country about a range of housing policies that have gained steam at the municipal and state level throughout the United States. The most popular policies are also the least controversial, politically: requiring governments to speed up permit approval (86% approval), allow more housing to be built near transit and job centers (81%), and allow more housing in commercial areas (75%).
But even reforms that are typically bitterly divisive at the local level – and were once considered unachievable in Austin – received significant support. According to the survey, 58% of respondents viewed changes to local rules around building housing that would allow “small multi-unit buildings on any residential lot” favorably, while 49% of respondents viewed rules allowing houses “be built closer together with smaller yards” (e.g., smaller lot sizes) favorably.
Versions of both policies are up for approval, Dec. 7, at a special-called Council public hearing on the Home Options for Middle-Income Empowerment ordinance, which packages together housing reforms brought forth by Council Members Leslie Pool and Zo Qadri. The report also found broad support (62%) for eliminating parking requirements, which Council did earlier this month.