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New poll indicates majority of Knoxvillians support expanding middle housing

December 13, 2023

A recent survey conducted by nationally renowned polling firm American Strategies, in collaboration with East Tennessee REALTORS®, shows substantial public support for altering zoning laws in Knoxville.

After hearing a brief description of Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon’s proposal for middle housing in Knoxville, 64% of respondents favor the plan to update zoning laws to allow for missing middle housing such as duplexes, triplexes and small apartment complexes. The poll also underscores the urgency of addressing housing affordability and availability, with 83% of respondents acknowledging housing costs as a significant issue.

“This new poll clearly demonstrates that Knoxvillians want changes to our zoning and land use rules that support walkable neighborhoods and increase the availability of smaller, less expensive housing options,” said Hancen Sale, East Tennessee REALTORS® government affairs and policy director. “Now, Knoxville leaders have an opportunity to take action and help make homeownership more accessible to our residents.”

Notably, 48% of respondents consider housing costs the most pressing issue for the City of Knoxville, significantly surpassing concerns related to crime and public safety (20%) and traffic congestion (12%). More than two-thirds say Knoxville lacks housing diversity, with almost three-quarters (73%) of respondents agreeing that Knoxville needs more housing options, like duplexes, triplexes and small apartment complexes. When it comes to who needs housing, 83% of respondents say that there is not enough housing for younger people and those just beginning their careers, and 80% believe that is the case for people with low incomes as well.

The results come as the Knoxville-Knox County Planning Commission plans to vote on the Kincannon administration’s middle housing proposal the week of Dec. 11.

“As Knoxville’s trusted voice in real estate, East Tennessee REALTORS® is committed to working with the City of Knoxville and community stakeholders to present viable solutions to the current housing crisis,” Sale said. “Housing is critical infrastructure. Just as fuel powers an engine, lasting policy reforms that increase the housing supply are the fuel that will propel the future strength and dynamism of Knoxville’s economy.”

The poll was conducted Sept. 18-22, 2023, among 404 likely presidential year voters in the City of Knoxville. The overall margin of error is +/- 4.9%.

About East Tennessee REALTORS®

Founded in 1912 and evolving from the Knoxville Area Association of REALTORS®, East Tennessee REALTORS® has been serving the real estate interest of its members and the public for more than 100 years. The association comprises 12 counties in the region: Anderson, Blount, Campbell, Cumberland, Fentress, Knox, Loudon, Monroe, Morgan, Roane, Scott and Union. The purpose of East Tennessee REALTORS® is to unite and serve its members and to enhance the ability and opportunity of its members to conduct their business ethically, professionally and successfully and to promote the preservation of the right to own, transfer and use real property. For more information, visit