SPAAR shares key findings from its housing poll report

SPAAR - 04/17/2024

The Saint Paul Area Association of Realtors® (SPAAR) conducted a poll of nearly 2,000 voters in Ramsey, Anoka, and Washington Counties in 2023 seeking their views on rent control, Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), short-term rentals, the affordability and availability of housing in Minnesota, and more. The purpose of conducting this poll was to gauge voter attitudes on issues important to SPAAR’s advocacy efforts.


Strong support for short-term rentals and Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)

Fifty-four percent of respondents support short-term rentals (STRs), while only 26% of respondents oppose them. A majority of voters in Anoka and Washington counties support STRs, and a plurality in Ramsey County and Saint Paul do. Similarly, 54% of respondents oppose banning short-term rentals, while only 19% support banning short term rentals. Majorities in Anoka and Washington counties oppose bans on short term rentals, and pluralities in Ramsey County and St. Paul also oppose bans on short term rentals.

There is even stronger support for ADUs. Sixty-six percent of respondents have a very or somewhat favorable opinion of these structures, while only 10% have a very or somewhat unfavorable view of them. This is reflected in each individual county that was polled as well, with a minimum of 65% support for ADUs in each county.

Support for rent control in St. Paul and Ramsey County
Fifty-five percent of respondents who reside in St. Paul support rent control generally, while only 28% oppose it. Forty-nine percent of respondents in St. Paul support St. Paul’s specific rent control policy. In Ramsey County as a whole, there is plurality support for rent control as an idea, and for St. Paul’s specific rent control policy.

Many voters “unsure” about rent control in Washington and Anoka Counties

In Anoka and Washington counties, views on rent control are much more mixed. In Anoka County, 28% of respondents are “Not Sure” about rent control with 38% in support and 34% opposing rent control generally. Similarly, when asked about St. Paul’s rent control policy, 27% responded “Not Sure” while 34% support and 39% oppose it.

Washington County had similar results. Twenty-eight percent were not sure when asked about rent control as a general policy, while 40% supported it and 32% opposed the idea. Specifically on St. Paul’s rent control policy, 24% of Washington County was not sure, while 39 % supported and 36% opposed.

Widespread belief that Housing Affordability and Availability is a problem
When asked “How big of a problem do you think housing affordability and availability is in your area?” Seventy-two percent of respondents said that it was a very or somewhat serious problem. This was consistent across counties. Anoka county had the least concern about housing affordability and availability in their area, but 68% of respondents in that county believe it’s a problem.

Plurality believe Minnesota is experiencing a “Housing Crisis”
When asked “Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Minnesota has a housing crisis.” Forty-nine percent of respondents agree, 26% disagree and 25% responded not sure. Ramsey county had the highest rate of agreement at 55% and Washington County had the highest rate of disagreement at 30%.

Majority believe new homes are not needed in their area
When asked “Generally speaking, do you think we need increased housing development in your area, or not?” Thirty percent of respondents said yes, 51% said no, and 19% were not sure. Ramsey County and St. Paul had the highest levels of support for new housing development while Anoka and Washington Counties both had majorities that said no new housing was needed in their area.

This poll has revealed how voters think about housing and housing-related issues. From this poll, SPAAR learned that there is incredibly strong support for ADUs among voters, which is great news given the benefits they can provide individuals and communities alike. ADUs can serve as housing for aging parents or kids returning from college, and they increase property values. ADUs also increase housing supply, which helps to lower housing costs in the communities where they're located.

The findings also showed there is support for short-term rentals, like Airbnbs and VRBOs, which bodes well for homeowners who can take advantage of the financial opportunities that they provide, as well as travelers who might prefer a home to a hotel. The poll also revealed that, while there is support for rent control in St. Paul, surrounding suburban areas are much more mixed on the idea, and a number of voters are unsure about the policy. This creates the opportunity for organizations like SPAAR to educate voters about the pitfalls of rent control.

Finally, SPAAR learned that there is an incredible incongruence between how voters are feeling about housing affordability and availability, and their appetite to resolve the problem, which would mean building more housing in these communities. The information revealed by this polling provides SPAAR an opportunity to educate voters and lawmakers alike on these incredibly important issues.

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