Use Facts to Fight NIMBYism

Developers of affordable housing often face an uphill battle when trying to convince local planning commissions, city councils and community residents that an affordable housing complex will actually be good for a community. A recent report from the National Association of Home Builders provides some additional ammunition when fighting against the often irrational arguments of those opposing affordable housing. All of us who develop housing have faced the “not in my backyard” (NIMBY) crowd, and in most cases, their arguments against the housing are not based on fact. This report provides some important statistics to assist developers in making their arguments.

A survey of research from the Center on Housing Policy (CHP) demonstrates that affordable housing development has a positive impact on local economies by providing jobs, attracting businesses and employees to a city, and increasing government revenues.

The study highlights the impact of a typical 100-unit low-income housing tax credit development on metropolitan area using various national averages relating to market values and land costs. Some of the statistics from the study are:

• Construction of the project will create 80 jobs in construction and building supply industries;
• 42 additional spinoff jobs will be created at local businesses for workers involved with the construction project; and
• The spending of the residents living at the property will support 30 jobs.

In a survey of 300 companies conducted by Harris Interactive, 55% of the firms with more than 100 employees said that there was not enough affordable housing in their proximity. Most of those surveyed believed that such shortages make it more difficult to find and retain qualified employees.

The study also cites findings showing that affordable housing does not have an adverse impact on property values, and in many cases, actually enhances such values. For example, between 1980 and 1999, 66,000 affordable housing units were built in New York City at a cost of $2.4 billion. The increase in home values within 2,000 feet of the affordable housing during that same period created an additional $2.8 billion in property tax revenue – a $400 million net gain for the city.

A copy of the studies, “Evidence in Brief” and “A Review of the Literature,” are available at