Dismantling the myths around NIMBY
Flatirons Habitat sees affordable housing development as a major win for our community: research suggests that offering housing options for households of every income level yields economic benefits, reduces traffic, and leads to more educated and equitable communities.
However, we sometimes encounter residents who oppose a new affordable development near their own home. This “Not In My Backyard” (NIMBY) mentality often stems from the myths and misunderstandings around affordable housing development and policy.
Myth #1: Affordable houses will have “cheap” or “undesirable” curb appeal and design Fact: Affordable housing communities are held to the same standard of design and quality as the homes surrounding them. In fact, studies have shown that the construction of affordable housing positively impacts property values in communities, even in more expensive neighborhoods. The idea that Habitat homes are going to look “cheap” is a myth that is commonly associated with NIMBYism. However, the quality of construction is not lowered in order to make the homes affordable. Rather, the homes are affordable because public and private funds are combined to finance the construction and because we utilize volunteer labor on the construction site. When meeting with architects to discuss building plans, Flatirons Habitat for Humanity makes sure that the aesthetic of the neighboring homes is taken into account. As a result, Habitat homes are indistinguishable from surrounding homes.
Myth #2: Affordable housing hurts the quality of education among local schools Fact: Some think that the quality of a community’s education will worsen once affordable homes are built in their neighborhoods. But the opposite is actually true. When families are spending 30 percent or more on housing alone, they are often forced to move frequently as rent continues to rise. Ultimately, their children will have to switch schools frequently, negatively affecting their test scores on standardized tests. The stability that comes with affordable housing allows a child to remain in a single school system and presents them with opportunities like higher test scores, long-term relationships with friends and teachers, and a higher chance of attending college.
Myth #3: Affordable housing will cause increased crime rates in neighborhoods Fact: Some evidence suggests that when families purchase their own homes, they actually add stability to their lives and the neighborhood, resulting in a lower crime rate. When a family owns a home, they want to feel safe and create a space that has increasing value. Neighbors often come together and seek the same things, promoting a cohesive lifestyle that further prevents criminal activity.
Myth #4: Affordable housing becomes a burden for taxpayers Fact: Recent studies have demonstrated that affordable housing developments had no apparent long-term impact on property values or property sales. This NIMBY myth persists alongside the notion that owners of affordable homes pay lower property taxes than their neighbors. However, Habitat homeowners pay taxes on the assessed value of their home. Additionally, as permanent residents in the neighborhood, homeowners participate more actively in the local economy by paying taxes and shopping at local businesses.
To learn more about the myths and facts around affordable housing, check out these additional resources:
Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity: 7 Myths About Affordable Housing Busted
Business and Professional People for the Public Interest: Myths and Stereotypes about Affordable Housing