AOBA Poll: DC & Montgomery County Residents Agree on Housing Affordability Issues, Needed Actions

Posted By: Brewster Thackeray (deleted)


Brewster Thackeray

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AOBA Poll: DC & Montgomery County Residents Agree on Housing Affordability Issues, Needed Actions

The region’s housing affordability challenge has become a top-of-mind concern for District of Columbia and Montgomery County residents, a new public opinion survey commissioned by the Apartment and Office Building Association of Metropolitan Washington (AOBA) finds.

However, residents don’t view the problem as intractable, but rather one requiring a comprehensive solution. Residents from both jurisdictions agree that the top two actions for local government to take to resolve the problem are:

     ·     Provide local-government-funded rental assistance to help more people afford their rent; and

     ·     Build affordable housing on government-provided public land in partnership with the private sector, with a streamlined approval process.

In addition, a majority of all respondents also called on local governments to:

     ·     Establish a public comment process to prevent individuals from unreasonably blocking new housing; and

     ·     Reduce property taxes to offset housing preservation costs. 

The AOBA-commissioned survey, conducted by OpinionWorks, queried a total of 853 randomly selected Washington, DC and Montgomery County registered voters between October 16 and November 2, 2019 to determine attitudes about housing availability along with contributing factors and potential solutions to the housing affordability challenge.

Stagnant wages, along with the high cost of land, were cited by more than 80% of residents in both jurisdictions as the top two factors driving the housing supply and affordability crisis. Other contributing causes identified by more than 50 percent of those polled were: new people moving to the area; government-imposed regulations; aging apartments needing renovation; and opponents that delay or block new apartments.

“Our region’s increase in rental housing operating costs goes far beyond wage increases that have remained relatively stagnant,” says Peggy Jeffers, AOBA-Metro Executive Vice President. “Much of these increasing operating costs can be attributed to the rising costs of utilities, property taxes, labor and maintenance, which have outpaced inflation for a number of years. This is an unsustainable dynamic that is both profound and palpable for concerned residents in Washington, DC and Montgomery County, as demonstrated by how they prioritize the issue of housing affordability and express their overwhelming desire for short and long-term solutions.”

The good news is that DC and Montgomery County residents have a strong welcoming attitude towards affordable housing in their neighborhoods and towards growth in general. Approximately eight out of 10 District residents and two out of three Montgomery County residents said it was appropriate to locate mixed income apartment buildings in their neighborhoods, while only 20% were opposed, and two-thirds of all residents supported growth in the region, thus proving opponents to be outliers and a distinct minority that goes against community sentiment. 

“AOBA concurs with DC and Montgomery County residents that solving the housing affordability problem is is going to take a comprehensive approach with the public, non-profit and private sectors working together,” says Jeffers. “We can’t do it alone.”

The survey results are posted at:


Graphics of the results are posted at:


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About the Poll

AOBA worked with OpinionWorks to conduct a public opinion survey of District of Columbia and Montgomery County, Maryland residents to determine their attitudes about housing affordability. A total of 428 interviews were conducted in D.C. and 425 in Montgomery County October 16-November 2, 2019 among randomly selected registered voters.  Live interviewers reached voters on both wireless and landline telephones, and an additional voter sample group were given the option of responding online to ensure the poll best represented all segments of the electorate. 

Sampling targets were adhered to throughout the interviewing process to ensure that the sample represented the electorate geographically, by political party, and for key demographic indicators such as gender, age, and race or ethnicity. Following interviewing, statistical weights were applied to ensure the sample most closely mirrored the characteristics of each jurisdiction’s electorate. This poll produces a margin of sampling error no greater than ±4.8% in each of the two jurisdictions at the 95% confidence level, meaning that at least 19 times out of 20 the actual results would differ by no more than that margin if every registered voter had been interviewed.


About AOBA

AOBA members are owners or managers of commercial and multi-family residential properties, as well as companies that provide products and services to the real estate industry. Currently, the combined portfolio of AOBA's membership is approximately 185 million square feet of commercial office space and more than 360,000 residential units in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia. AOBA’s membership portfolio includes approximately 78,000 units in the District of Columbia and 73,000 in Montgomery County.


About OpinionWorks

OpinionWorks is an Annapolis, Maryland-based organization that conducts frequent opinion studies at the state and local level across the country. Since 2007, it has been the polling organization for The Baltimore Sun newspaper, and has polled for numerous other media and advocates throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. The firm is also engaged by state and local government agencies from Delaware to Oregon to assess public needs and preferences. 


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