NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) resistance is on the rise, but developers must continue the fight to produce quality affordable housing and serve low- and moderateincome Americans.
According to the latest Saint index, created by the Saint Consulting Group, 44 percent of Americans are opposed to multifamily development, up 10 percent from the year before.
“When people hear the words ‘affordable’ or—worse—‘low-income housing,’ all the fears and stereotypes come out,” says Chris Estes, executive director of the North Carolina Housing Coalition.
This is unfortunate because these developers strive to create affordable and safe housing that can change people’s lives and revitalize communities.
In this issue, AFFORDABLE HOUSING FINANCE devotes a special section to fighting NIMBYism (see page 22). More than just a public relations issue, NIMBYism is a financial one, costing developers precious time and money.
The developers featured share their battle scars and the lessons they’ve learned from their NIMBY experiences. They also offer ideas on garnering public support, handling public meetings, and showing off successes to overcome NIMBY opposition. One developer organizes bus tours of his developments for city leaders. Another regularly recruits local nonprofit community organizations to be a partner in the affordable housing developments.
Developers need to be proactive in stating the case for affordable housing and tout their success stories.
One way to do this is by launching a media campaign after each of your grand openings. Identify residents who have had their lives changed by your housing and get their stories out into the community via local publications and television news. Invite local officials and community leaders to tour your development and meet residents. Letting the community and the local officials see the quality of your development, the people you are serving, and the services you provide to the residents as well as the community can help you in the long run.
Also, if you did have to fight a NIMBY battle, invite those critics to your development once residents have moved in to show them your accomplishments and how you have helped the surrounding community. You never know when an opponent might become an ally.
These ideas are just two of many that might help to prevent lengthy battles the next time you decide to build in the same community or even in the same state.
We hope the war stories shared by developers will motivate you to continue to fight against NIMBY critics. AFFORDABLE HOUSING FINANCE also wants to hear your stories, the lessons you’ve learned, and how you proactively work with communities to decrease NIMBYism. Show us your battle scars.
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