National survey reveals suburban residents support city reinvestment
provided by US Conference of Mayors
he US Conference of Mayors and the Mortgage Bankers Association of America have announced a five-point plan to encourage city reinvestment at the same time they released a nationwide poll that found city and suburban residents alike support tax dollars being spent to revitalize central cities. This finding challenges the widely-held belief that cities and suburbs have little in common and are often in conflict with each other over housing, transportation and other community development issues.
The poll found that 68% of city residents and 66% of suburban dwellers said rebuilding cities and relying more on public transportation is the most effective way to solve the impact of sprawl and traffic congestion.
"We must focus on the well-being of families and the livability of our neighborhoods in both cities and suburbs. We are in this together, and this poll shows there is common ground between the two. Upon this ground, we must build policies and strategies that will benefit all, making housing affordable, reducing commute times and managing development," said Boise Mayor H. Brent Coles, President of the US Conference of Mayors.
Joining Coles in the announcement was Christopher J. Sumner, President of the Mortgage Bankers Association. "For the first time, suburban and city residents are agreeing on issues that have blocked consensus building in the past. This is good news for policy makers looking at ways to deal with affording housing, traffic and sprawl," said Sumner, who is also CEO of CrossLand Mortgage. "This presents an opportunity to stimulate private investment in cities throughout the nation to build strong local economies and healthy communities."
Other participants at the press conference included Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, USCM Advisory Board Chair; Mayor Sharon Sayles-Belton of Minneapolis; Andrew D. Woodward, Chairman of Bank of America Mortgage and MBA President-Elect; and Thomas Jacob, CEO and Chairman of the Chase Manhattan Mortgage Corporation.
The five-point plan (see details below) includes the establishment of The Council for Investment in the New American City, a partnership between the US Conference of Mayors and the Mortgage Bankers Association of America. Importantly, the Council's formation marks the first time mayors have come together in an official capacity with the country's top financial lending and development leaders to confront and address issues around housing, transportation, commercial and retail development in central cities and suburbs.
The plan also calls for a Washington, D.C. summit within 120 days of next year's congressional session and several regional summits across the country to help develop a national policy proposal on city reinvestment. This national policy proposal will include strategies to help develop public transportation, solve traffic congestion, manage development in suburban areas and provide housing affordable, not just for low-income families but the middle class as well.
The Council released last October's poll as part of a report, entitled The Changing Realities of Cities. This report and poll are the first of several to be developed by The Council for Investment in the New American City to measure public support over time for reinvestment strategies and document the most recent research and innovative policies.
Of the poll findings, Mayor Sayles-Belton said, "This survey clearly shows that the public is overwhelmingly in support of using creative public-private funding to improve the quality of life in our communities in tangible ways, such a building better public transportation systems to combat traffic congestion, and sprawl and creating opportunities for affordable homeownership in central cities."
The major findings of the poll include:
The poll, conducted by the Global Strategy Group for The Council for Investment in the New American City, measured attitudes of residents in seven cities: Atlanta, Boston, New Orleans, Phoenix, San Jose, St. Louis and Washington, D.C. About 66 percent of respondents were Caucasian; 19 percent African American, 6 percent Hispanic/Latino, and 5 percent Asian. The majority of the respondents earned incomes between $25,000 and $100,000. About a third were renters, and 65 percent, homeowners. More than half (54%) were married; 26 percent, single. The poll has a margin of error of 2.7 percent.
The Council's five-point plan to develop a national policy proposal includes:
Additional information can be found on the US Conference of Mayors Web site, usmayors.org.