"There's two fundamental problems," Clark said. "Those people are not necessarily aware of how to engage with government in order to express that point of view. And then the second big problem is housing takes place in a particular place. So everyone might be supportive of housing in general, and then when you propose a specific project, that general support sometimes wanes."
San Francisco residents were more likely to back building housing of all types, including low-income and homeless housing, than their neighbors in surrounding counties. Respondents younger than 40 were more likely to favor development than their older counterparts. And 81 percent of apartment-dwellers supported building significant quantities of new housing in the Bay Area, compared to 59 percent of people living in single-family homes.
That's not surprising, said Sydney Bennet, senior research associate at real estate website Apartment List. People renting apartments typically hope to buy a home one day, so they support new development that could lower home prices, she said. But homeowners, who worry about the value of their house falling or their neighborhood changing, have more to lose when new buildings go up.
"People who are homeowners and have lived in the same neighborhood longer may be more attached to that character," Bennet said.
The opinions of renters are becoming increasingly important as home ownership falls out of reach for more people. The region's proportion of renters grew by about 5 percent over the past decade, while the percentage of homeowners dropped in kind, according to a report by New York University's Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy.
Some Bay Area residents can't afford even to rent, like 60-year-old Guadalupe Negrete, who has lived in San Jose her whole life. Since her husband's death four years ago, Negrete, a former bank teller, has survived on widows benefits. After losing the home she owned and then bouncing from rental to rental, she's spent the past 10 months living in her station wagon with her terrier, Bella.
"For a woman 60 years old, that's not the greatest thing," Negrete said. "I didn't stay in San Jose 60 years to end up this way. This is ridiculous."
About the poll: The poll of 900 registered voters in Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo, Santa Clara and San Francisco counties was conducted by J. Moore Methods Inc. Public Opinion Research for Silicon Valley Leadership Group and the Bay Area News Group. Silicon Valley Leadership Group provided funding for the poll with significant financial support from Facebook. The poll, conducted from Dec. 27 to Jan. 9, has a margin of error of +/- 3.3 percent.
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