First, Your Why
First, it’s important to know your why. Our “official” why is “because everyone deserves a safe, affordable, hopeful place to call home, and when that’s the case, our entire community benefits.”
But you might have a more personal why that you want to share. That’s great!
Here are a few similar points that you might find helpful:
Then, Be Ready to Mythbust
Some YIMBYers are nervous to be vocal about it because they don’t feel confident of what they will say if their view is challenged. It’s important to have some knowledge to back up that claim.
Our preference is to keep messages positive, but if someone asks you about property values or crime, it’s important that you can answer intelligently. (For these, we’re borrowing heavily from the NIMBY to Neighbour Resource from the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness. That’s where you will find all the study citations, etc.)
Property Values: Measurable increases in home prices and rents as well as a general increase in real estate activity often represent important benchmarks when thinking of neighbourhood revitalization, growth and security. The vast majority of studies have found affordable housing does not depress the neighbourhood property values, and may increase them in certain instances.
- In a BC study, professional appraisers tracked the impact of seven social housing projects across the lower mainland, Vancouver Island and the interior. In every case, neighbours opposed the projects because they feared their property values decline, thus threatening their investment. Over five years the appraisers tracked sale prices among nearby houses, and compared those to a control area. The study found house prices near the controversial projects increased as much or more than houses in the control area. In addition, there was no evidence of panic selling, or of houses taking extraordinarily long times to sell.
Crime & Safety: Affordable and supportive housing does not negatively impact crime rates.
- The fear-driven link between certain types of housing and crime ranks as one of the strongest perceived negative consequences of affordable housing projects. It is cited in 61% of cases where there is opposition to an affordable housing project. It is important to note that, in general, arrest rates are higher for individuals and families experiencing homelessness when compared to the general population. However, the link between crime and this very vulnerable group is exacerbated by the lack of access to appropriate types of support and the criminalization of homelessness. Unfortunately, as many people experiencing homelessness spend much of their lives in public spaces, the day-to-day behaviours that would normally occur in private are often treated as criminal when they must take place in public (e.g. sleeping, substance use, urination, etc.).
- For those needing supportive or affordable housing, the link with crime has been exacerbated because individuals have been unable to access appropriate levels of support and treatment. One implication of this is that instances of successful community opposition may, in fact, be creating more crime by reducing the number of options open to those individuals who would otherwise have resided and received care in the proposed facilities. In other words, to more effectively manage incidences of crime within our communities, we must first work to end homelessness through more effective housing and treatment programs that are available to those the most in-need of the same safe, secure, affordable housing that the rest of the community enjoys.
Stigma-Based Reactions: An issue that often rises when affordable housing is discussed in established neighbourhoods is that this will encourage an influx of residents who may not share similar values or social norms. This reaction is based on the imagined characteristics of the people that objectors fear will ultimately live in the project. Often these objections will be based on the individual prejudices and beliefs of opponents, rather than the actual impacts of a development on a neighbourhood.
- This type of opposition, which often successfully thwarts the development of affordable housing, is often based on misperceptions and stereotypes of the people who may live there. Such opposition is seldom grounded in the reality of modern affordable housing.
- To overcome this discrimination, it is important to name it and call it out. To untangle the difference between legitimate and discriminatory opposition, it is helpful to introduce the ‘cringe’ test.
If you were to substitute the word “black” or “Greek” or “gay” for the word “low income”, “mentally
ill” or “people with addictions” – would the statement make any fair-minded person cringe?
- Sixty years ago in Canada, there were subdivisions that prevented people of Jewish, Asian, or
African decent from purchasing a home. The lawmakers who established these restrictions believed they were ensuring the continuation of safe communities through preventing crime and protecting property values. It would be unthinkable for practices such as these to exist today. Over time, numerous court decisions have labelled these as illegal and public opinion has shifted as a result of mountains of evidence demonstrating that neighbourhoods have only to gain from residents of all religions and races. We must end the similar existing discriminatory practices against those with low incomes, experiencing homelessness, mental illnesses, or those living with addictions. By doing so, we will not only build homes for all, but create strong, resilient, diverse neighbourhoods as well.
And if you’d like to tell us YOUR why, we’d love to hear it!
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