Contact: Ling Woo Liu, lliu[at]sff.org
May 3, 2021
Residents see support for small businesses, living wages for all workers, revitalized public transportation, and preventing evictions and homelessness as key issues for policy makers to address
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – In the midst of declining COVID case rates and the continuing vaccine rollout, a new nine-county survey commissioned by the San Francisco Foundation’s Bay Area Leads Fund reveals that Bay Area residents overwhelmingly agree that COVID recovery plans should prioritize under-invested communities. The survey also highlights that economic recovery, vaccination, and homelessness are top issues to address on the road to the Bay Area’s recovery.
Among Bay Area residents, 90% agree that having people from different races and income levels is part of what makes the Bay Area a great place to live. Additionally, across all political persuasions, from conservative to progressive, majorities of residents agree that racial inclusion will enhance the Bay Area’s economy and quality of life.
“This survey shows us how in tune Bay Area residents are to the ways the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed and worsened racial and income disparities,” said Fred Blackwell, CEO of the San Francisco Foundation. “Residents want change. I hear them telling us that they don’t want our region to go back to the way it was before COVID-19, they want a more equitable future.”
When presented with different types of support that could be prioritized in recovery plans, residents see several issues as critical to address. They considered support for small businesses, living wages for all workers, access to public transportation, and preventing evictions and homelessness as particularly important to prioritize.
Residents see the pandemic as having a particularly negative impact on small businesses, and they show strong interest in financial relief for small businesses as well as providing technology and banking support to small businesses to aid in their recovery. Along with providing direct support to small businesses, residents find employment opportunities that pay a living wage as an important component of the Bay Area’s recovery plans.
Housing, a central issue before the pandemic, continues to be top of mind for Bay Area residents, who indicate that recovery plans should include policies seeking to prevent evictions, keep families from becoming homeless, and provide housing and support for those experiencing homelessness.
The survey was released as national, state, and local governments are moving quickly to roll out stimulus plans and other policies aimed at jumpstarting the economy following the COVID-induced recession. At the national level, President Biden’s American Rescue Plan includes funding for emergency rental assistance and homelessness programs — two of the key priorities Bay Area residents identified for a successful and equitable recovery. In California, Governor Newsom’s proposed budget includes funding to support small businesses (especially those that have been historically underserved), rental assistance, and housing for people experiencing homelessness.
“These findings come as Bay Area leaders at the city and county levels are stepping up to make sure our recovery from COVID-19 doesn’t leave anyone behind,” said Kay Fernandez-Smith, Vice President of Policy and Innovation at the San Francisco Foundation. “We can see from these results that, here in the Bay Area, we believe in reimagining a better future for all.”
Highlights from the Survey:
Racial equity and inclusion are part of what makes the Bay Area a great place to live for many residents.
- 90% of respondents agreed that having people from different races and income levels is part of what makes the Bay Area a great place to live.
- Majorities of respondents of all political persuasions agreed that greater racial inclusion will enhance the Bay Area’s economic quality of life, including 93% of Progressives, 91% of Liberals, 80% of Moderates, and 57% of Conservatives.
Small businesses, public transportation, housing, and homelessness are key issues for Bay Area residents right now.
- Respondents showed very strong support for including small business support (95% reported as important), living wages (93%), maintaining access to public transportation (91%), and preventing evictions and homelessness (91%).
- Residents see the pandemic as having had a significant negative impact on small businesses (86% perceived negative impact)—especially in comparison to large businesses (25% perceived negative impact)—and find priorities aimed at assisting small businesses important (95% consider financial assistance to small businesses to be important).
- Residents see the pandemic as having had a very negative impact on many groups, particularly small businesses (59% see impact as very negative), people experiencing poverty (54%), and people experiencing homelessness (49%).
- Support for renters is seen as more important (86%) than support for homeowners (81%), but support to address homelessness (91%) and provide places to live for those who are homeless (88%) are seen as important by an even higher percentage of people.
Residents see COVID-19 recovery as an opportunity to increase equity in the Bay Area.
- 85% of respondents indicated that it’s important for COVID recovery to prioritize under-invested (vulnerable) communities.
- Among young people age 18-34, 88% see addressing racist policies as important in COVID recovery (with 80% overall seeing this as important).
Comparing a subset of respondents in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, and San Mateo Counties to previous opinion polls in this five-county geographic area suggests that residents may now be more supportive of racial and economic diversity than they have been in the past.
- Almost all residents in these five counties now see racial and economic diversity as part of what makes the Bay Area a great place to live (89%), up from 76% in 2019 and 77% in 2016, based on responses in similar surveys (though with different polling methodology) conducted in this same five-county geography.
- Similarly, 82% of respondents in these five counties agree that greater racial inclusion will enhance both the economy and the quality of life of the Bay Area, up from 66% in 2019 and 62% in 2016, based on responses in similar surveys (though with different polling methodology) conducted in this same five-county geography.
- Please note that changes in methodology between the 2021 poll and the 2019 and 2016 polls may account for some differences in the results in this section.
The mixed-mode survey was conducted by EMC Research during March 9-14, 2021, and included online through email and text invitation and live telephone interviews on landlines and mobile phones. The survey was offered in English, Spanish, Chinese, and Vietnamese, and respondents were 800 adult residents in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, and Sonoma Counties.
The subset of data from the five-county region that includes Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, and San Mateo Counties was compared to previous polls conducted in English only with an online panel of respondents by EMC Research in 2019 and 2016.
The survey was funded by the San Francisco Foundation’s Bay Area Leads Fund, a donor supported fund to advance the foundation’s civic leadership activities and strategic initiatives to address the most intractable issues in the region.
For complete poll results, contact Ling Woo Liu at lliu[at]sff.org.
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About San Francisco Foundation
San Francisco Foundation is a grantmaking public charity dedicated to improving life in the San Francisco Bay Area, and it is one of the nation’s largest community foundations. In addition to its work supporting an economic recovery in the Bay Area that is grounded in racial equity, the San Francisco Foundation has worked in a variety of other areas – including supporting the Bay Area Equity Atlas – a robust data and policy tool to help create a more equitable Bay Area; working to prevent homelessness and provide affordable homes for all Bay Area residents; providing emergency protections to advance racial justice or protect immigrant communities through its Rapid Response Fund; and has supported a targeted set of other initiatives focused on racial equity and economic inclusion. Learn more: sff.org.
About EMC Research
EMC Research, Inc. is a full-service opinion research and strategic consulting firm serving a broad range of clients, including public and private corporations, state and local governments, nonprofit organizations, public agencies, and political campaigns. With offices in Columbus, OH; Irving, TX; Oakland, CA; Portland, OR; Seattle, WA; and Washington, D.C., EMC Research is a certified women-owned business.