The East Tennessee Realtors, formerly the Knoxville Area Association of Realtors, just wrapped up a poll asking residents how they would handle the housing issue. The group polled 828 registered Knoxville voters of all ages in November/December 2022 asking questions on the city’s growth and development.
On Aug. 9, they presented their findings to city leaders and other government entities to help inform future decisions.
One of the first polling questions asked for input on the top priorities for local government. 48% said increasing the amount of affordable housing was a top priority. Following closely, 45% of people also said protecting open spaces like fields, forests and farmland from development was a top priority.
Those two options can conflict, creating a problem for leaders trying to make policy decisions. When asked to choose just one of those priorities, those polled seemed to struggle. 52% said building houses was more important, while 45% said limiting construction was more important.
When you break those answers down to different age groups, there is an obvious trend. 62% of people between the ages of 18 and 49 say that housing is a big priority while only 41% of voters 50 and older chose housing.
East Tennessee Realtors Policy Director Hancen Sale said despite tradeoffs, officials are starting to listen to the younger voters, who also tend to be most impacted by the housing crisis.
“Knox County, both local government and community organizations, have been putting a lot of time and effort into trying to keep young professionals, UT graduates in Knoxville. That is the demographic that is really bearing the brunt of the housing issue and that is also the demographic that is highly supportive generally speaking of building more even if it means there will be change,” Sale said.
East Tennessee Realtors also asked voters for their opinions. The top three proposals include changing zoning laws to allow for more construction.
The most popular option would change laws to allow for more multi-family housing, like townhomes, duplexes and triplexes.
The other two options were slightly less popular and would be to change zoning laws to build more apartment buildings and condos.