What the F*** is a YIMBY? a PHIMBY? a NIMBY?

If you care about what the California housing landscape will look like in 5, 10, or 20 years (maybe you want to know if you will you be able to find a house or apartment to live in or if your grandkids will be able to live nearby) you need to know these terms.

NIMBY – not in my back yard.  NIMBY’s tend to be home or property owners who oppose any new development.  They will cite traffic, environmental issues, and the “character” of the neighborhood as reasons.  However real you think these concerns are, it is a fact that their property values will likely maintain or increase at astronomical rates by limiting the supply of new housing. This is especially the case in crisis conditions like California is experiencing.

YIMBY – yes in my back yard.  YIMBY’s tend to be a younger generation that want lots and lots of development.  Their theory is simply supply and demand: if we build a lot of housing, prices will go down.  They are often (but not exclusively) higher income but unable to afford to buy and subject to the whims of landlords.  Many are reaching their 40s and still living at home or with multiple roommates.  The official California YIMBY platform is that new development also needs to include units affordable to low-income people.  But, YIMBY’s are often maligned for being “cover” for big for profit developers or not really caring about protecting, preserving, or creating housing for working class and poor people.  For example, they are active housing policy advocates but do not often show up for progressive (non-development centered) housing policy efforts. For example, California YIMBY did not endorse Proposition 10 in the fall of 2018 which would have allowed cities to create and update rent control ordinances.

PHIMBY – public housing in my back yard.  This term describes a set of housing activists and organizers (many of whom have been fighting for housing justice for decades) that are first, and foremost, interested in producing, protecting, and preserving low income housing. This includes protecting traditionally lower income and racially diverse neighborhoods from gentrifying, advocating for rent control, and showing up at city council meetings to support low-income housing developments.  Today, new low-income housing is primarily developed and managed by private, non-profit organizations and funded through government tax credits which are awarded on a very competitive basis.  It is incredibly difficult to site (NIMBY’s oppose it) and finance.

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