Nearly two-thirds of Seattle’s most reliable voters favor allowing the construction of four to six story multifamily apartment buildings anywhere in the city for social housing that includes dwellings for educators, nurses, and architects, a poll conducted for the Northwest Progressive Institute earlier this year shows.
65% of 651 likely special election voters surveyed by Change Research for NPI in advance of Seattle’s February 2023 special election said they are strongly or somewhat supportive of allowing multifamily apartment buildings to be built anywhere in the city to provide housing for people working in professions like teaching, while 30% said they were opposed. 5% said that they were not sure.
About four in ten Seattle voters surveyed said they were strongly supportive, while fewer than two in ten said they were strongly opposed. 26% were somewhat supportive, while 11% were somewhat opposed.
Seattle voters in February said yes to Initiative 135, a social housing initiative championed by our friends at House Our Neighbors. The measure authorized the formation of a public development authority, or PDA, to build social housing.
State and city elected leaders have since been working to marshal funding to help the PDA get set up and begin its operations, a process that will take some time.
NPI’s research shows that a big percentage of the city’s most dependable voters — the folks who can be counted upon to return a ballot regardless of what time of year it is or how much media coverage an election is getting — are enthusiastic about getting more social housing built, and not just in neighborhoods that are already home to medium story buildings. Here’s our question and responses:
QUESTION: Do you support or oppose allowing the construction of four to six story multifamily apartment buildings anywhere in Seattle for social housing that includes dwellings for educators, nurses, and architects?
- Support: 65%
- Strongly support: 39%
- Somewhat support: 26%
- Oppose: 30%
- Somewhat oppose: 11%
- Strongly oppose: 18%
- Not sure: 5%
We had a follow-up question that we asked of those opposed, which was:
FOLLOW-UP QUESTION: You indicated you’re opposed to allowing four to six story multifamily apartment buildings to be built anywhere in Seattle. Are there other types of housing units you would support in your neighborhood? Check all that apply.
- Duplexes: 43%
- Attached dwelling units (ADUs) / backyard cottages: 38%
- Townhouses: 23%
- Triplexes: 15%
- Fourplexes: 13%
- Fiveplexes: 7%
- Sixplexes: 7%
- None of these: 41%
What these follow-up answers show us is that even among folks who don’t want to see four to six story multifamily apartment buildings allowed anywhere in Seattle, there’s still openness to other missing middle housing solutions.
Duplexes topped the list, followed by ADUs and backyard cottages.
There was less interest in townhouses or other types. Slightly more people in this group of voters expressed support for duplexes than checked the box that said “none of these,” a particularly intriguing result. (Remember, these are the people who said they were somewhat or strongly opposed to the first question!)
We asked a similar follow-up question of our supportive voters, and as you might expect, they’re extremely enthusiastic about the whole range of options.
FOLLOW-UP QUESTION (ASKED OF SUPPORTIVE VOTERS): Are there other types of housing you’d support allowing to be built anywhere in Seattle? Check all that apply.
- Duplexes: 78%
- Attached dwelling units (ADUs) / backyard cottages: 72%
- Townhouses: 71%
- Triplexes: 71%
- Fourplexes: 68%
- Fiveplexes: 58%
- Sixplexes: 58%
- None of these: 7%
Our survey of 651 likely February 2023 special election voters in Seattle, Washington was in the field from Thursday, January 26th, through Monday, January 30th, 2023. All respondents participated online. The poll was conducted for the Northwest Progressive Institute by Change Research and has a modeled margin of error of 4.2% at the 95% confidence interval.
Housing policy took front and center stage in the recently-concluded 2023 legislative session, with lawmakers adopting several bills that will make it easier to build missing middle housing in communities across the state.
As we saw with the vote on I‑135, Seattle voters are keen on a multifaceted strategy that embraces a range of ideas and solutions for making housing more attainable. Voters aren’t just willing to say yes to more infrastructure and money for housing, they’re also ready to welcome new neighbors so that everyone who wants to live in the City of Seattle can have a place to call home.