Good News: Community Survey
by guest author Rob Wrenn
The City of Berkeley’s March 2016 Community Survey has now been released and it contains good news for advocates for increased funding for affordable housing.
Given a choice of 12 issues, “Building affordable housing” was ranked number 1 by survey respondents with 22%, followed by the related issue of “Addressing homelessness” with 17% .
37% answered that “providing affordable housing” was “extremely important”, while 41% said it was “very important”. As far as actions considered extremely important, “providing homeless services” was number 2, with 33%.
Increasing the Business License Tax on Landlords
Four questions were asked about increasing the Business License Tax on landlords of residential buildings, an action supported by BTU, BCA, the Berkeley Progressive Alliance and affordable housing advocates generally. The survey shows strong support for the tax, which need not be written to require more than a 50% vote.
When asked whether they would vote for a measure to increase the tax on landlords with five or more units by an average of $30 a month per rental unit, with revenues going to providing new affordable housing and homelessness prevention efforts, 60% said Yes, and 13% were undecided or didn’t know.
The same question, but applied to landlords of buildings with 10 or more units, received 55% yes; 20% undecided.
When told that the increase in the tax could not be passed on to tenants and would bring in a about $4 million every year, enough to create 300 affordable units over ten years and would also fund emergency rental assistance to help Berkeley families avoid homelessness, the yes vote jumped to 67%
Finally if the tax were $45 a month per unit and would bring in about $6 million a year, enough to create 450 affordable units, 53% said they would be more likely to vote for it; 23% said less likely.
Housing Bond Measure
61% said they would vote for a $500 million Alameda County bond measure to fund construction, development, acquisition, and preservation of affordable housing affordable to low and middle income individuals and families that would prioritize vulnerable populations and would provide down payment assistance for middle income households. Tax after bonds were issued would be $12 per $100,000 in assessed value. 18% said no and 21 were undecided or replied that they didn’t know. Such a bond would require a two-thirds vote countywide and would have to be strongly supported in Berkeley to pass countywide.
- 48% of respondents were home owners; 47% were tenants
- Only 11% were full-time students; 20% were retired
- 62% of respondents were white; 10% black; 10% Asian
- Only 14% were 18-24.
- 72% were reached on a cell phone.
- 43% lived in Council districts 5, 6 and 8 where turnout tends to be high in local elections; 30% from the progressive districts 3, 4 and 7 that have large tenant populations.
- On the whole, students, who are likely to support such a measure, were underrepresented in the sample and white people were slightly overrepresented relative to the population.
- 34% consider themselves “progressive” “in terms of local politics”, while 34% consider themselves “liberal” and 21% “moderate”; with only 5% for “conservative”.
- Only 3% were Republicans.
38% said they would support an amendment to the City Charter for public financing of local elections. 32% were opposed; 30%, a sizable number, undecided.
You can find the entire survey here: