Hoover Institution Golden State Poll: Californians Face a Housing Conundrum

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Amid California’s recovery from its great recession, a new Golden State Poll conducted by the Hoover Institution at Stanford University finds Golden State residents concerned about  younger generations’ being able to meet the demands of exorbitant housing prices, and the ability of low- and middle-income residents to claim their piece of the California Dream and  being priced out of where they currently live.

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Hoover Institution Golden State Poll: Californians Face a Housing Conundrum

“Of the abundant challenges facing California, few are as troublesome as the ability to find quality, affordable housing,” said Hoover research fellow Bill Whalen, who follows California politics and policy. “As our survey results show, the concern is uniform regardless of age, geography, or outlook. Californians look at the rising costs and dearth of attainable housing and worry that future generations won’t be able to lay down roots in the Golden State.” 

The latest Golden State Poll, administered by the survey research firm YouGov, interviewed 1,500 adult (18+) Californians who live in the San Francisco Bay Area, Central Valley, and Southern California. The survey asked them their views on the housing market and opinions about what, if any, government remedies are in order.

A full description of the regional survey design, which is based on U.S. Census Bureau definitions and data for the three areas, is available in the full poll results found here. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1% for the full weighted sample.

Among the survey’s highlights:

  • Sixty-nine percent of respondents consider California’s housing market to be very or somewhat expensive for the housing you get, with Bay Area residents the most likely to express this view (78 percent).
  • Fifty-five percent of respondents consider the housing market they currently live in to be very or somewhat competitive. Fifty-two percent of Bay Area Californians consider their housing market very competitive compared to just 15 percent of those who live in the Central Valley.
  • Among the concerns about the cost of purchasing a home, 28 percent of respondents identified the struggle of younger generations to own a home as their top concern, with similar opinions from across the Bay Area, Central Valley, and Southern California. Bay Area residents were most likely to name “I’m being priced out of the area in which I currently live” as their top concern (25 percent).
  • Forty-six of respondents had considered moving because of the cost of housing, including 59 percent of those under thirty years old, 57 percent of those who rent, and 50 percent of low-income Californians.
  • Among the three state government policies we asked about, subsidizing public transit (54 percent strongly or somewhat support) beat out reforming CEQA (32 percent) and increasing the renters’ tax credit (40 percent).
  • Among the three local government policies examined, more rent control had more support (47 percent strongly or somewhat support) than relaxing open space requirements (36 percent) and changing zoning laws (38 percent).

Just 14 percent of those surveyed selected one of the three state-level policies as those that would most reduce the cost of purchasing a home in their area. Californians feel their local government should address the problem.

The May-June 2015 issue of Eureka, a Hoover Institution publication focusing on policy, political, and economic issues confronting California, will be released in conjunction with this Golden State Poll. This volume centers on California’s housing conundrum, examining home values in a historical context, causes of the affordability crisis, and possible solutions.  Hoover Institution research fellow Carson Bruno also provides an in-depth analysis of the Golden State Poll results in the same issue of Eureka.

The Hoover Institution Golden State Poll is conducted quarterly by researchers at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, in partnership with the survey research firm YouGov. The May 2015 Hoover investigators are Carson Bruno; Jeremy Carl; Lanhee Chen, PhD; Tammy Frisby, PhD; and Bill Whalen.

About the Hoover Institution:  The Hoover Institution, Stanford University, is a public policy research center devoted to the advanced study of economics, politics, history, and political economy—both domestic and foreign—as well as international affairs. With its eminent scholars and world-renowned library and archives, the Hoover Institution seeks to improve the human condition by advancing ideas that promote economic opportunity and prosperity and secure and safeguard peace for America and all mankind.

CONTACT INFORMATION: Jenny Mayfield | Hoover Institution | Director of Media Relations | Office of Public Affairs | 650-723-0603 | jennymayfield [at] stanford.edu

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