The lack of affordable housing is hurting the economy, said a majority of respondents to a survey conducted for the National Association of Realtors.

About 81 percent of the participants in the survey also said that the lack of affordable housing in their area is a problem, and most respondents said they are worried that the high cost of housing will force their family to live apart and will force them to live in less desirable areas. Also, about 81 percent of respondents said they would be willing to support affordable housing in their area if the homes “were built in such a way that they fit with the area and were pleasant to look at.”

And 70 percent said they would like to see the government place a higher priority on making housing more affordable for both renters and homeowners in their area, while 62 percent of respondents said affordable housing is an important election issue.

The survey of 1,000 adults living in urban or suburban areas was conducted by Public Opinion Strategies in April, and the results have an error margin of plus or minus 3.1 percent. This National Housing Opportunity Pulse survey is the second of its kind–the first survey was conducted in August 2003.

“Despite all of the other concerns America faces, affordable housing ranks as voters’ third greatest concern, just behind health care and the economy,” said Walt McDonald, president of the Realtors association and owner of Walt McDonald Real Estate, Riverside, Calif. “Moreover, our survey found that the issue is growing in importance. More voters are worried about the cost of housing today and what it means for their families and their communities than they were just nine months ago.”

By a wide margin, Americans support the construction of more affordable housing, both rental and ownership, in their communities if the housing fits in with the area. About 75 percent of respondents are concerned about the impact the rising cost of housing has on teachers, firefighters, police and others on whom communities depend, and 70 percent support the construction of affordable homes for these public employees.

About 53 percent of survey participants said they worry that their children and grandchildren will not be able to afford to live close to them, and 59 percent said the cost of a home is getting so unaffordable that it is hurting their local economy. In the first National Housing Opportunity Pulse survey, about 56 percent of respondents said that the cost of a home was getting so unaffordable it was hurting their local economy. In that survey, 69 percent of voters gave their federal elected officials a grade of “C” for not working to improve the availability of affordable housing.

“Now we are entering the height of the political campaign season. Soon the national conventions will be upon us, and then, the final stretch for the presidency and the new Congress,” McDonald said. “Those elected in November will be in a position to decide the fate of affordable housing. Our new survey makes it clear that voters are going to take their concerns about affordable housing into the voting booths with them. All of us want to see our communities offer more housing opportunities and this election season we will work hard for those candidates who agree with us.”

***

Send tips or a letter to the editor to glenn@inman.com or call (510) 658-9252, ext. 137.

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