HIP Tool: NIMBY, Strategies to Address

Affordable housing projects, increased density and other proposed regulatory changes to established neighborhoods can be contentious issues that provoke common “not-in-my-back-yard” (NIMBY) reactions from the surrounding community. Building community support throughout the planning process is essential to bridging the acceptance gap for a particular project or regulatory change. Some general strategies to build support and address NIMBY attitudes include: community outreach plans, coalition building, education, and ongoing communication.


Background

Building community support to combat NIMBY-ism requires patience, listening and creativity. It can be a time-consuming process and may require expert consultation. Because of the variety of motives groups have for mobilizing around an effort, jurisdictions and housing advocates will likely need to create different messages that respond to particular issues. The intent of this tool is to be persuasive and to demonstrate how providing housing for all is a community benefit on many levels. Projects will appeal to more people if outreach relates to deeper values and interests. Residents will cite a variety of concerns that may be based on prejudices or misconceptions about a project. Common NIMBY claims around affordable housing center on concerns about declining property values, increased traffic, changing character of a neighborhood or stereotypes about residents. Many of these concerns are based upon misinformation and can be rebutted with educational outreach.

Objective community concerns, such as those relating to traffic congestion, service provision or environmental quality, should be heard and addressed within development plans, not brushed off as disguises for NIMBY attitudes. Concerns about design and unsightliness may be addressed through design charettes and review processes.

Stereotypes can be harder to dislodge, but can be counteracted by interactions between concerned neighbors and actual residents of affordable housing, and by building a relationship among neighbors, residents and developers. The links below offer more specific suggestions on addressing common community concerns.

The process of building support can take many forms. The outreach approach can range from promotional, where jurisdictions or developers provide information and communicate a project or concept, to collaborative, where information is being shared and gathered by each side of the issue. Jurisdictions should think about their goal(s), such as whether they are trying to inform the community about a proposed development or create a coalition supporting affordable housing issues. Not all techniques for building support will work in every situation, and a variety of strategies will probably be used, depending on the project, the community’s familiarity with the subject, and who is involved.

Tool Profile

Focus Areas

  • Urban Centers
  • Transit Oriented Development
  • Expensive Housing Markets
  • Innovative Single Family Techniques
  • Citizen Education & Outreach

Project Types

  • Single Family
  • Multifamily
  • Ownership
  • Rental
  • Market Rate
  • Subsidized

Affordability Level

  • 80% to 120% AMI
  • Less than 80% AMI

Housing Goal

  • Affordability
  • Diversity