Survey: Americans support building more homes, especially when they realize it makes housing more affordable

Americans are concerned about housing affordability, which shouldn’t be too surprising considering rising home prices. According to the Cato Institute 2022 Housing Affordability National Survey, a whopping 87% of Americans “are concerned about the cost of housing.”

Americans are not only concerned about their own ability to afford a house, but also that of their neighborhood counterparts, and younger generations. As Cato explains,

Most homeowners (55%) say they couldn’t afford to purchase their own home today based on current prices. This share rises to 73% of Americans who think that average people in their communities can’t afford to buy homes. Even more, a similar share (69%) worry that their kids or grandkids won’t be able to afford a home someday.

Surprisingly, however, support for reforms that would improve the housing supply is low. While over three-quarters of Americans are concerned about housing costs, only half support building more homes.

But what accounts for this disconnect?

People support building more homes when they learn that it makes housing more affordable

According to the survey, more respondents support building more homes if it means that housing will be more affordable. This support rises even further when it comes to specific groups. For example, while only 51 percent of people support more housing in general, the number rises to 64 percent if more housing would make it easier for people to afford homes. Support for more housing rises even further — from 51 percent to 72 percent — if it would make it easier for young people and young families to afford a house.

These changing attitudes are witnessed even among varying demographic groups. Across party lines, Democrats, Republicans, and Independents alike are all more likely to support building more homes if it makes housing cheaper — albeit to varying degrees. Even homeowners, who are more opposed to housing construction than renters, support more housing if it makes housing more affordable.

It’s potentially likely, therefore, that despite research evidence showing that more housing reduces housing costs, a lot of Americans do not make that connection.

A lesson for policymakers

For policymakers especially championing more housing, this should be a lesson that policies that support building more would garner more support if the benefit of affordability was emphasized.