All across the suburbs in America, there is a growing number of homeowners who are actively petitioning their local elected officials to deter low-income housing from being developed in their neighborhoods. These homeowners, also known as “not in my backyard” residents and better known as NIMBY, have been trying to stop developers from building housing in the suburbs across the nation.
NBC reported on a recent City Hall meeting in the suburbs of Phoenix, Arizona, where local homeowners rallied to stop the development of low-income housing as well as living facilities for seniors. One of the most vocal leaders, Nate Pomeroy, doesn’t want low-income residents in his suburban neighborhood.
His reason? He believes low-income families will lower the property value of his home. “It’s just going to turn this into a very high-density area. It’s going to change the look and feel of where we are, and people aren’t happy about it,” Pomeroy told NBC. “The City Council and city management have not listened effectively. They’re going to build and build and build, and it’s no longer going to be the last place I live.”
But don’t call him a NIMBY. “We’re not necessarily against affordable housing,” he said. “We get this is politically very unpopular, because as soon as you talk about that the liberal locals, the media, etc., will label us as NIMBYs. So now all of a sudden we’re back on our heels going ‘Wait a minute, we’re not bad people,’ and then they just shout you down and all that garbage.”
What’s Driving the Housing Market Dilemma?
Besides the racial dog whistles these sentiments present, there is also a class division growing in a housing market that’s currently experiencing a lock-in effect cycle where homeowners are not eager to sell. Just last year, Dave Chappelle found himself under scrutiny for advocating against affordable housing as well. Earlier this year, NBA superstar Stephen Curry faced similar criticisms, however, his letter didn’t stop the multifamily development.
Awais Azhar, who is a housing advocate in Austin, Texas, is a member of the city’s Planning Commission and told NBC, “That cost pressure that was being felt by coastal cities has now traveled to our suburbs. It’s traveled to our rural areas. Affordability is truly a United States crisis. There is a lot of pressure and angst from local advocates and leaders because while unaffordability has been an issue for a while, we’ve just never seen this level of crisis in the way we’re seeing it now.”
With the cost of housing rising and inflation, it’s getting harder for middle-class people to map out a realistic path to homeownership. It’s especially difficult when the combination of race and class are present and suburban homeowners want to keep a distance from what they perceive as lower-quality residents.
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by Arielle Clay | January 19, 2023
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