Although the conversation around the national housing affordability crisis tends to focus on major metropolitan areas like New York City, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, and San Francisco, in reality the crisis is gripping communities from coast-to-coast. Americans in cities, suburbs, and rural communities alike are struggling to find quality, affordable places to live.
That is why it is encouraging to see a new wave of “Yes in My Backyard” (YIMBY) activism across the country. In major cities and beyond, local citizens are fighting for policies that would stimulate housing development in high-opportunity areas by challenging restrictive zoning and permit laws.
There have been promising wins at the local level, but those efforts are now bearing fruit federally with the introduction to Congress of the bipartisan H.R. 4351, also known as “The YIMBY Act.”
The YIMBY Act would remove barriers to building more housing by fostering less-restrictive zoning, as-of-right development and faster permitting. It would incentivize municipalities to enact these changes by tying eligibility for the popular Community Development Block Grants to them. It also provides a framework for communities to develop better policies and regulatory practices specifically for affordable housing development.
This legislation is exemplary of the policies the New York State Association for Affordable Housing (NYSAFAH) supports and promotes every day in the Empire State.
Even more encouraging is the bipartisan coalition of legislators representing diverse communities across America taking up the cause. In the House Representatives William Lacy Clay (D-MO), Jaime Herrera Buetler (R-WA), Mike Quigley (D-IL), Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Ann Wagner (R-MO) have joined Heck and Hollingsworth as co-sponsors. Senator Todd Young (R-IN) has introduced a companion bill in the Senate.
This is good news. According to the Missing Millions of Homes report by the New Democrat coalition, housing costs represent the largest increase to household budgets over the past 15. The median US household is now spending 42 percent of its income on housing. This is far above the maximum of 30 percent economists recommend for financial stability. Housing affordability is a national crisis.
The depth and severity of this crisis is fueling new YIMBY activists and their actions are resonating the halls of Congress. The conversation around housing is changing and a natural next effort will be to change some of the regressive policies driving this national crisis.
As a board member of Up for Growth, NYSAFAH is proud to support these efforts and we are one of thirteen advocacy organizations that have endorsed YIMBY Act legislation.
We continue to advocate for smart policies New York City’s five boroughs and across New York State and are ready to work with partners across the country to help put new regulations and policies in place to deliver American families much needed affordable housing.