Renters vs. Homeowners: Political Divide as Wide as California’s Affordability Gaps

By Lansner, Jonathan | Pasadena Star-News, May 27, 2018 | Go to article overview

Renters vs. Homeowners: Political Divide as Wide as California’s Affordability Gaps


Lansner, Jonathan, Pasadena Star-News


Renters are more worried than homeowners about California’s housing woes.

You do not have to be a pollster to figure this out. But the gap revealed in a new survey from the Public Policy Institute of California shows key differences.

For example, the survey of 1,702 California adults shows 13 percent of renters say real estate costs were their top California concern. Just 7 percent of homeowners felt the same way. One thing homeowners typically possess that renters don’t — the relative certainty of what the roof over your head will cost.

I know California renters tend to be younger, make less money and are more financially crunched than homeowners. And the survey says homeowners lean more conservatively than renters — 38 percent vs. 29 percent. But since this state is only slightly tilted toward homeowners, demographically speaking, these renter sentiments — especially on business-related issues — cannot be ignored.

Please note there was not total disagreement in the poll. Jobs and the economy were cited as the top issues to tackle in the state for renters and homeowners alike.

But mixed dollars-and-cents anxieties showed up when pollsters were asked about California economic prospects 12 months out. Renters were cautious, with only a slim difference between those who saw “good times” ahead vs. “bad times” — 48 percent optimistic vs. 42 percent pessimistic. Owners were an enthusiastic group: 53 percent were upbeat vs. 37 percent downbeat.

There was, however, significant disagreement on the importance of immigration issues: 18 percent of homeowners listed it as their top concern vs. 13 percent of renters. And 26 percent of homeowners told pollsters that immigrants are a burden to society vs. 14 percent of renters.

It may be that renters show more sympathy to immigrants — legal or otherwise — because they are more likely to be immigrants themselves or they empathize on an economic level.

Now the institute’s timing for the poll was clearly political with a state primary ahead. Renter and homeowner views differed here, too.

Gov. Jerry Brown got high grades from the tenant crowd: 45 percent favorable vs. 25 percent unfavorable. More homeowners like Brown — 51 percent approval — than owners who didn’t like the governor — 38 percent disapproval. …

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