A new Trulia survey on what Americans think about their neighbors helps explain why suburbanites are so afraid of affordable housing, particularly when it comes to rentals. The “people like us” preference comes shining through their responses.
Trulia surveyed about 3,000 American adults who live in both suburban and urban settings. While a solid majority reported that they like their neighbors — even if they don’t know their names — they also acknowledged distinct preferences about who lives next door.
- One in three said it was important that they and their neighbors speak the same language. The preference was a good deal stronger among suburbanites than urbanites.
- Thirty-five percent said it was important that their neighbors be homeowners, not renters. And again, among suburban respondents alone, the preference was stronger, at 38 percent.
Having sat through many a debate over affordable housing, I know that an awful lot of people still associate affordable housing with a scary “other,” often lumped into a group vaguely identified as “those people.” As this survey shows, otherness is often the enemy in suburbia.