A majority of Marylanders agree that state and local lawmakers are not doing enough to create more rental and homeownership opportunities for households in every income bracket, according to a newly released opinion poll conducted last month.

The poll found 72% of respondents agree that state government officials should do more to improve access to housing. A plurality of those polled supported local governments permitting more homebuilding near rail transit; approving subsidized, income-restricted housing faster and in more neighborhoods; expanding where manufactured homes, or mobile homes, can be built; and setting targets for how many new homes each county must produce to reduce a statewide deficit and help lower housing costs.

A whopping 81% of all respondents surveyed said homes have become less affordable, including 91% of those polled from ages 18 to 29 and 81% of those ages 55 to 64.

The poll, commissioned by Greater Greater Washington, a nonprofit that advocates for more attainable housing choices, among other issues, was conducted by YouGov Blue, which does market research and polling for Democratic and progressive clients. More than 800 voters answered the questions online from Feb. 14 to Feb. 28. The poll has a margin of error of 4.7 percentage points.

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Housing costs ranked second on a list of issues that Marylanders considered most important, behind only inflation and slightly ahead of crime. In specific areas, such as Prince George’s and Montgomery counties, it ranked first, while in Baltimore City and County, it ranked third after crime and inflation. Statewide, housing costs outranked other much-debated topics, including health care costs, availability of good-paying jobs, taxes and immigration.

With Maryland facing a shortfall of housing and affordability challenges, state lawmakers have attempted to intervene with a three-pronged legislative package during this year’s 90-day General Assembly session. Spearheaded by Gov. Wes Moore’s administration, the housing package focuses on enabling local governments to add more and denser housing in strategic areas, including near public transit and on vacant land, along with financing more housing and protecting tenants’ rights.

It comes as about half of Maryland renters are cost-burdened, paying more than 30% of their incomes on rent, and as evictions rise to levels not seen since before the coronavirus pandemic. Different estimates have pegged the housing unit shortfall from a low of about 96,000 units to as many as 150,000 units.

Less than half of this year’s legislative session remains for lawmakers to hammer out the details of the governor’s housing agenda, and it’s unclear if all three bills can pass. But lawmakers and policymakers representing several corners of Maryland said the poll results validate and legitimize the Moore administration’s proposals.

“The polling data is clear: the majority of Marylanders are calling on the State to address housing affordability, and they are no longer willing to tolerate government inaction at any level,” Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development Secretary Jake Day said in a statement.

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An overwhelming majority of respondents indicated they were “almost certain to vote” or likely to vote in the 2024 elections, and just under half of those polled said they would vote in the Democratic primaries. Another half said they don’t vote in primary elections or vote in Republican primaries.

More than half of the respondents said they strongly agreed or somewhat agreed that local governments were not doing enough to help middle- and low-income households find housing within their budgets, and 68% identified Maryland’s housing problems as statewide issues.

Younger voters polled were more likely to say there aren’t enough housing options for every income level, though a majority of respondents in every age bracket agreed with the statement. And a plurality of voters across party lines said they would not support state lawmakers who voted against policies that would lower housing costs, though more Democratic primary voters than Republicans said that would sway their vote.

At the same time, only 4% of respondents said they had “heard a lot” about the governor’s housing package, while a broad majority indicated they had not heard much at all or “heard a little” about it.

This year, Maryland REALTORS commissioned another poll from American Strategies, a national opinion researcher that specializes in housing and economic development, that found large majorities indicated that housing costs are too high and viewed it as a “worsening problem” in Maryland. Housing costs also ranked second on a list of the state’s biggest issues, trailing crime and exceeding education funding, taxes, inflation, infrastructure, jobs, transit and climate change.

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But, among respondents under 50, rent and housing costs ranked as the top issue they wanted state leaders to focus on, the REALTORS poll found. Overall, the share of respondents thinking that state government was doing a “good” or “excellent” job of tackling housing affordability and supply has fallen from 24% in 2020 to 15% today, with 77% thinking the state legislature was doing a “just fair” or “poor” job. City and county governments earned similar scores.

The poll, which did not ask respondents specifically about the governor’s housing package, also found that about one-third of respondents indicated they have considered moving or leaving the state due to housing costs, up four percentage points from a year ago.