Nearly three-quarters of homeowners and 80% of renters support policies that promote building more housing. However, only roughly 25% from both groups would feel positive about new apartments being built in their neighborhood, according to a report from Redfin.
Additionally, 40% of homeowners would feel negative about a new complex, and 35% would feel neutral. Of renters, 24% would feel negative about the possibility, and 49% would feel neutral. Surveying over 5,000 U.S. residents who either moved in the last year, plan to move in the next year, or rent their home, the report narrows in on the 3,949 respondents or 78% who are pro-building.
“Personal preferences for things like a quiet neighborhood or old-fashioned charm are often at odds with building new housing. Even though so many Americans believe in building new dense housing in theory, that ideology isn’t strong enough to outweigh their own desires—especially when they don’t stand to directly benefit from the building. That’s why it’s so difficult to overcome community opposition to dense new housing, even during a time when so many Americans believe in the Yes In My Backyard (YIMBY) movement,” says Redfin chief economist Daryl Fairweather.
Broken down into political groups, both the majority of Democrats (83%) and Republicans (75%) support initiatives for building more housing. Yet, similarly to the overall respondent share, a much smaller percentage would feel positive about a large new complex being built in their neighborhood. Thirty-four percent of Democrats would feel positive and 24% of Republicans, while 23% of Democrats would feel negative about a complex compared with 37% of Republicans. Those feeling neutral equated to 43% of Democrats and 40% of Republicans.
Although the report reveals that Republicans are more likely to be against a new complex in their neighborhood than Democrats, the South, which largely leans Republican, is building more homes than other parts of the county. According to the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the region issued 576,000 single-family building permits in August, more than twice as many as any other region, Redfin notes.
“There are YIMBYs and NIMBYs on both sides of the aisle,” Fairweather says. “That’s part of the reason it’s so difficult to push through policies that promote dense housing. But all types of building ultimately help with housing supply and affordability, even building more single-family homes. The more homes that exist, the more likely it is a person can find one to fit their needs and their budget. So even though Republicans are more likely to oppose dense housing, the South is doing more than other regions to create more housing and help with affordability. Looking forward, governments in some red and blue states are prioritizing affordable housing. In Montana, for instance, a wave of bipartisan legislation to reform zoning is making its way through the government, and California lawmakers have eliminated barriers to building [accessory dwelling units].”
If the apartment complex being built in their neighborhood was for low-income residents, Democrats are nearly twice as likely as Republicans to feel more positive. Approximately one-third (34%) of Democrats say they would feel more positive if it were for low-income residents compared with 19% of Republicans, while about half of both groups would feel neutral.