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  • Writer's pictureAna Stanovcic

Poll: majority of Texans want state to step up role in affordable housing

A majority of Texans think state and local government should be more involved with providing affordable housing, according to a new poll released Thursday.

The Texas Lyceum Poll results show the beliefs among the majority of Texans regarding government involvement in affordable housing run contrary to the general political will of conservative state lawmakers. In recent years, the Legislature has acted to prohibit cities from having access to many tools municipalities in other states commonly use to create affordable housing.

The poll found 68% favor greater state involvement in creating affordable housing, and 74% believe cities should be doing more.

Among people who identified as Republicans, 60% surveyed said city governments should do more to increase the amount of affordable housing in their communities. Forty-nine percent of Republicans said it’s the responsibility of the state leaders to do more.

In 2005, state lawmakers passed a law banning “inclusionary zoning,” which would have allowed cities to set affordable housing requirements on new developments. In 2017, the Legislature prohibited so-called linkage fees, which apply fees to new construction that are used to create affordable housing. State law also prevents some taxes from being spent on housing.

“We have seen the state in many cases make it more difficult for cities to incentivize affordable housing,” said Josh Blank, Lyceum Poll research director. “We were expecting to see more Republicans against it.”

Those who identified as Democrats were far more supportive of state and local government involvement in the creation of affordable housing; respondents in generally more expensive urban areas favored government supported affordable housing to a greater degree.

Support among rural residents appeared to be related to the poll’s finding that half of Texans think it is difficult to find affordable housing in their communities. That trend stretched across geographic regions, indicating that the lack of affordable housing inventory is not isolated to the states’ urban centers.

The Texas Lyceum Poll surveyed 1,200 adults on their general housing circumstances as well as homelessness and gentrification. Its margin of error is 2.89 percentage points.

Homelessness was seen as a more visible problem in Texas’ urban centers, where 63% of people said it is a problem. In suburbs and rural areas, 40% and 33%, respectively, of Texans said homelessness is a problem.

“Homelessness is a statewide problem,” Blank said. “That includes the state’s major urban centers, but confirms that it is a suburban problem and includes rural areas even if the focus has been on Austin in recent months.”

By Philip Jankowski

The Austin Statesman

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