The Many Colors of NIMBY: Affordable Housing IS needed, Just Not Here

Knapton, North Norfolk. Affordable housing is not needed here, but elsewhere in North Norfolk.

NIMBY: Not in My Back Yard. Part of an ongoing collection of articles exploring some of the many ways that a worldwide affordable housing crisis is opposed.

‘Here’ is a very flexible concept. Widen the idea of ‘here’ and it can include whole nations of people. When you narrow it, however, it is a tool for NIMBYites, who use it to reduce neighbourhoods to the most defendable size, conveniently blinding themselves to the affordable housing crisis.

But never mind neighbourhoods for a moment. What kind of ‘here’ is suitable for affordable housing? Land is a big hurdle and there is no free land where affordable housing is needed. Donated land, subsidized land, city-owned land — these ‘heres’ are the next best thing. Not too far from work is also a useful ‘here.’ And for people with disabilities the distance to transit, shops and other amenities may be a vital ‘here.’

Back to the ‘here’ and now of neighbourhoods. In Norman, Oklahoma, city council has been considering a neighbourhood zoning change from low density to medium density, so that three triplexes can be built for elderly and disabled citizens. Everyone agrees it’s a noble aspiration, including the neighbours.

But . . . just not ‘here’.

‘Here’ is a neighbourhood with low density zoning. It is a perfectly satisfactory ‘here’ and should not be changed, even though the impact of the change may be small. And council is siding with the neighbours.

The trials and tribulation of building affordable housing in the face of ‘just not here’ NIMBYism is a prime reason why leadership in affordable housing must be shared by all levels of government, national, state, provincial, regional as well as local.

Local councils representatives cannot be depended upon to face a crisis on a ‘big picture’ basis. Read more about how neighborhoods can squelch even the most unobtrusive affordable housing in the Norman Transcript: City roundup: council sides with neighbors again in latest zoning dispute

On the other side of the Atlantic, one ‘here’ is the district of North Norfolk, which has an affordable housing problem. But residents in the local village of Knapton in North Norfolk are bound and determined that ‘here’, green space is needed, while affordable housing is not.

The village council is soldiering on to approve plans for an affordable housing estate on the green space, which benefits the District of North Norfolk. Read more in the EASTERN DAILY PRESS: Affordable homes plan for Norfolk village receives 100 objections

Whether local councils agree or disagree, higher levels of government must demonstrate leadership in the war against affordable housing if there is to be any real change. Try: “Affordable Housing: The State Must Lead”


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