Neighbors Waging ‘Not in My Backyard’ Battles

Across the country, neighbors are fighting against development of affordable housing, even if the proposals are far from their homes. Homeowners increasingly want to have a say on what development occurs in their communities beyond their own lot boundaries.

As such, developers are struggling to build affordable housing for seniors, high-rises, and tiny homes.

Homeowners are concerned about the quality of their schools and safety of neighborhood parks and they believe that greater affordable housing may jeopardize that—a “not in my backyard” idea.

“Communities always need to be changing,” Vicki Been, the faculty director of New York University’s Furman Center and a former commissioner of Housing Preservation and Development in New York, told The New York Times. “And we can’t have a process that gives every individual sort of a veto over change.”

Homeowners fear the impact that greater affordable housing could have on their property values.

“As people are increasingly living in urban areas really close to each other, it starts to be the case that so much of the value of your property is bound up in things that are happening outside of your parcel,” says Lee Fennell, a law professor at the University of Chicago.

Homes are the source of wealth for many people. “We ask home equity to do so much more for us in terms of providing retirement, providing a bridge during drought years, allowing us to have collateral for other kinds of loans,” Nathan Connolly, a historian at Johns Hopkins University, told The New York Times. “Then you add schools and crime into the mix. …To the extent that people can control anything,” he says in referring to property values, “they try to control for that.”

Source: “How ‘Not in My Backyard’ Became ‘Not in My Neighborhood,’” The New York Times (Jan. 3, 2018)