Not-in-my-backyard (NIMBY) Opposition to Affordable Housing

Collaborators: Victoria Basolo, University of California, Irvine and Corianne Scally, Urban Institute

NIMY opposition to affordable housing is detrimental to its production. Debates over the siting and construction of affordable housing typically revolve around three main issues: (1) architectural design (e.g. physical quality, density); (2) neighbourhood effects (e.g. crime, property values) and (3) characteristics about the “imagined” affordable housing tenants. Some or all of these issues can be raised during a debate over an affordable housing proposal. When the debate moves to a public forum, such as a city council meeting, the oppositional sentiments are more measured and carefully crafted. Instead of incendiary remarks about affordable housing tenants, issues such as the physical character of the development (e.g. quality of design, density, height, etc.) and the neighborhood effects, such as property value decline, traffic volumes, parking and crime, are raised. How can affordable housing advocates combat NIMBY and reframe and reclaim the debate to achieve YIMBY (Yes in My Backyard)?


2005                Nguyen, Mai Thi. “Does Affordable Housing Detrimentally Impact Property Values? A Review of the Literature.”  Journal of Planning Literature 20(1): 15-26. (Top 10 most cited publication in the journal) [Article]


2013               Nguyen, Mai Thi, Victoria Basolo, and Abhishek Tiwari. “Opposition to Affordable Housing: How the Debate is Framed and How Developers and Local Housing Actors Respond.” Housing, Theory and Society 30(2): 107-130. [Article]

2019                Nguyen, Mai Thi and Scally, Corianne.  “Affordable Housing and its Residents are not Pollutants.”  A Response to Wassmer and Wahid.  Housing Policy Debate 29(2):363-368. [Article]

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