Housing affordability weighs on minds of US mayors

MAYORS across the United States have nominated housing affordability and availability as their most pressing civic concern – and the top reason that people are moving away from their cities.

Big and small-city mayors are also deeply concerned by the consequences of climate change, and agree that cities should play a strong role in mitigating the negative effects.

The assessments are among the key findings of the 2017 Menino Survey of Mayors published on 23 January by the Boston University Initiative on Cities.

More than half of the 115 mayors interviewed (51 percent) said housing costs are one of the top reasons people move away from their city – outpacing other salient issues like jobs, schools, and public safety.

While housing stock is a problem throughout the US, affecting both expensive and inexpensive cities, mayors have varying views on how to mitigate the problem.

Increasing homeownership rates is a top priority for many mayors (36 percent), regardless of housing prices. However, mayors of less expensive cities are also eager to update their aging housing stock (30 percent), while those in more expensive cities need to build more affordable multi-bed units (39 percent).

Sixty-eight percent of mayors believe cities should play a strong role in addressing climate change, even if it means sacrificing revenues or increasing expenditures, a slight increase from three years ago.

Mayors cited a range of top climate and sustainability priorities, including reducing the number of vehicles on the road (36 percent), upgrading city buildings and vehicles (31 percent), and sourcing greener energy (27 percent).