Before Covid-19 took hold of the national consciousness, the YIMBY movement — of those saying “Yes In My Backyard” to housing development — appeared ready to go mainstream. More and more people recognized that NIMBYism run amok and codified into local laws leads to fewer housing options, drastically raising prices in cities and towns alike, and contributing to inequality. Now, in a time of pandemic-driven budget cuts and unemployment, the importance of housing affordability is growing.
Policy makers can deliver it, and without budget outlays, by simply allowing more housing — particularly low-cost housing — to be built. But the path to housing abundance isn’t quite as easy as some recent reforms, narrowly focused on one particular type of zoning, might lead us to believe. Separating the long-conflated ideas of owning or renting housing from securing a large and expensive piece of land will require more effort.