Results of Friends of Delray Survey of

Active Delray Beach Voters

November 9th, 2023

In October 2022, Friends of Delray fielded a survey among 300 Delray Beach voters to measure their perceptions of our city and its government.  Results were used to tailor our messaging to our members and to the public, in general. 

One year later we fielded a very similar survey to see what has changed and what has stayed the same.  We asked about issues of importance, in general, and attitudes towards specific issues before the City Commissioners (Historic District and Affordable Housing). 

The survey was co-sponsored by Friends of Delray and Board Member, Dr. Kurt Jetta.  We used nationally recognized polling vendor American Pulse who fielded 315 Complete surveys via phone and online.  To qualify for the survey a respondent had to have voted in at least one election in the last four years.   About 80% of the 47,000 registered voters qualified for this survey ("Active Voters").  We made sure that at least 25% of the respondents had voted in at least one municipal election during that time. 

We are pleased to share the topline results and our interpretation of them.

“Would you say Delray Beach is heading in the Right or Wrong Direction?

Just over one-half of Delray Voters believe our city is heading in the Right Direction.  This is a significant improvement over the results from last year.  Right Direction responses jumped 14pts, from 37% to 51%, a 38% improvement.   

While we did not ask why they feel this way, one reasonable conclusion would be the lack of drama, friction, turnover and dysfunction from the City Commission and senior city management in the past year.

Which features about Delray Beach do you really enjoy?

Unfortunately, we did not ask the question in the exact same manner as last year, but in both surveys Active Downtown and Beaches were the features that respondents like the most about Delray. 

Truth be told, they told us there is a lot to like about our city, as you can see from the numerous features that received well over 50% selection.

Which local issues are extremely important to you?

Similar to the prior question, we gave respondents the ability to mention more than one issue of importance in this survey. 

•   Public Safety stood as #1 (78%), which likely would be the first mention from people in any community. 

•   There was a second tier of mentions for Water Quality (73%) and Affordable Housing (72%). 

•   Curiously two issues that receive a disproportionate amount of public commentary - Traffic (67%) and Homelessness (66%) - were in the third tier of concerns for Delray Voters.  To be sure, they are still registering as very important to many people. 

•   On a relative basis though, Water Quality in both years was at the top of the issues of importance for Delray Voters.

One issue we forgot to include was Overdevelopment, and the majority of mentions for "Other" were around that issue.  We did include the major bi-product of Overdevelopment, Traffic, and that issue was only a Tier 3 issue for Delray Voter.  We will be sure to include this as a choice in next year's survey.

Delray Beach is considering making most of the buildings along downtown Atlantic Avenue an historic district.  For this proposal do you...?

There is clearly very high support for making downtown Atlantic Avenue an historic district.  Opponents to the proposal are quick to mention that the businesses most affected by this proposal deserve to be considered more than a group of residents that will only be marginally affected if this proposal goes through. 

Further, the Likes about Delray "History" was relatively low in the prior question, so the Approvals may not be nearly as animated as the Disapprovals.  This all suggests that Approval level for this proposal is soft.

How would you compare the current state of Arts and Culture in Delray Beach compared to five years ago?

This question was a way to determine if there was any lasting negative impact of the extended closing of Old School Square.  These results seem to suggest that any damage in public perception is minimal as only 16% stated Arts and Culture is worse off.  By contrast, 56% said Arts and Culture was the Same or Better than five years ago.

Please indicate your level of agreement with the following statement: 

"I support efforts to increase affordable housing for low-income people in Delray Beach."

Delray Beach Voters overwhelmingly support efforts to increase affordable housing for low-income people in our community.  The Agree/Disagree split over 4:1 with 75% Agreeing (54% Strongly) and only 18% Disagreeing (and only 11% Strongly).   

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Fair Rent for a studio apartment is $1,800.   This is hardly affordable to a low-wage service worker making $15-20 per hour.  Similar to what we saw in the Important Issues question, Delray voters recognize affordable housing to low-income folks is a problem that needs to be addressed.

Please listen to the following statements about Multi-Tenant Housing Units (MTHU's) and then let us know if you support or oppose expanding this concept in Delray Beach.

One issue before the January 2024 Commission Workshop is a concept to address affordable housing for low-income individuals. The issue has generated quite a bit of discussion and controversy on community chat boards, so we wanted to gauge the support for the concept (called Multi-Tenant Housing Units) with Delray Voters. 

To understand how much public education played into the level of support we split the sample into two groups:  half the sample received only limited information of the concept, while the other half received a much larger set of information. The hypothesis is that providing more information to voters about MTHU's will increase their support.

Sample 1 - 50% of Sample (Limited Information)

• MTHU's stands for Multi-Tenant Housing Units

• They are like traditional rooming houses where every four residents share a private bathroom and kitchen.

• Each MTHU goes for $600 per month.

Sample 2 - Remaining 50% of Sample (Fuller Information)

•MTHU's stands for Multi-Tenant Housing Units

•They are like traditional rooming houses where every four residents share a private bathroom and kitchen.

•Each MTHU goes for $600 per month compared to the average studio apartment of $1,400.

• MTHU's were recently approved city-wide in Toronto, Ontario Canada.

• Multi-Tenant Housing Units do not require any tax breaks or subsidies.

• MTHU's include advanced security systems and rigorous background checks for prospective tenants.

• MTHU's have existed in Delray Beach since 1960, and there have been not instances of crime in these units in the past five years since the implementation of stringent tenant vetting.

The responses from Delray Voters shows that when they are given more information about MTHU's they are strongly in favor of the concept (70% Support vs. 23% oppose).  Most notably, the Strong Opposition dropped by almost 50% (32% down to 17%) with the fuller information set.  Understandably, low-income housing has a lot of baggage, and that was seen with the Limited information sample.  On balance these respondents Opposed the idea (42% Support vs. 48% Oppose), but the Strong Opposition outnumbered Strong Support by 2:1 (32% vs. 16%).  This concept has a long, long way to go before it could ever become a reality in Delray Beach, but when properly informed about MTHU's, voters support them in large numbers.


This is the most important question to ask after investing significant sums into marketing research.  What do we make of this data?  Here's how we see it:

1. Delray Citizens are more content with the way things are going in the city now than they were one year ago.  The discontent voiced by some certainly isn't evident with the majority of Delray Voters.  There is nothing in these results that suggests a course correction of the new City Commission is in order.

2.  The things people enjoy about Delray (Beach and Downtown) and the issues of importance (Public Safety, Water Quality and Affordable Housing) are the same things there were at the top of the list last year.  There is no new emerging issue capturing the attention of voters.

3.  Despite some complaints about Overdevelopment in Delray, the data suggests that, on balance, it has not reached a breaking point with Delray Voters.  The percentage of Likes about Active Downtown (78%) outweighed the Dislikes about Traffic (66%).  Additionally, the strong gain in Right Direction mentions vs. last year supports that notion that most Delray Beach voters are fine with the current level of development.  That said, there appears to be a clear consensus in the data that the Overdevelopment issue is on most people's radar, and it is something to keep an eye on.

4.  The proposed Atlantic Avenue historic district has bigtime support from the public, but based on outspoken feedback on community chat boards, policy makers need to make sure local business owners are comfortable with the change if it happens.  

5.  Affordable housing for low-income people has big support from voters, and the MTHU option gathered strong support once people were fully informed about the idea.  Without that information, the issue loses support.

Bookmark This: Holiday Event Calendar - Downtown Development Authority

Delray residents in our survey tell us an Active Downtown is one of the features they enjoy most about our city.  Downtown Delray during Holidays though? 

Next Level.

The Delray Downtown Authority (DDA) has posted all the important holiday events, and you can see that calendar here.

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