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GIVE HOUSING A VOICE: TOOLKIT FOR HOMEOWNERS

Overview:  When it comes to proposing affordable housing in one’s community, there are many factors in place that hinder the project from getting past its first planning phase.  Homeowners often have concerns about the financial consequences a project can bring such as decreased property values, increased taxes, higher demands for funding education systems, etc.  There is equal concern for the regulation and maintenance of affordable housing projects as well as the mechanisms that designed to protect the properties of all Americans but simultaneously hinder the prospect for developing affordable housing.  Most damaging to the prospects of implementing affordable housing is oppositional public opinion referred to as a “Not in my Backyard.”  However, when successfully implementing affordable housing projects, the neighborhood is often positively affected.  Not only does affordable housing better the lives of its residents but also helps the community by increasing local tax revenues, promoting economic and social integration and bringing new skills and ability to the workforce.

Talking Points on Barriers to Fair Housing Policy Implementation

Finance: Effect on Property Values

Oftentimes homeowner’s fear that their property values will decline motivates opposition towards affordable housing projects.  Responding to these fears, affordable housing advocates have claimed there is little evidence from studies that have examined this topic to suggest that affordable housing detrimentally affects property values.  A further analysis of these studies reveals that the extent to which property values decrease depends on a variety of factors such as design and management of affordable housing, compatibility between affordable housing and host neighborhood, and concentration of affordable housing.    (“Does Affordable Housing Detrimentally Affect Property Values?  A Review of the Literature”)

Regulation

While ability restraints and financial difficulties limit the production of affordable housing, regulatory barriers compound challenges.  Numerous legal mechanisms protect property rights and homeownership – including zoning, subdivision regulations and private covenants – that protect obstacles to the development of affordable housing.  Despite their intended design to protect the property of all Americans, such regulations limit the ability of minorities and the poor to move into neighborhoods with access to better resources and opportunity.  However, while regulations might stop your neighborhood from growing, it will not stop people from moving to your communities.  Every house that is not built in your neighborhood is a house built somewhere else, usually at the edge of town.  (“Barriers to Fair Housing Policy Implementation: Finance, Regulation and Public Opinion.”)

Public Opinion: NIMBY

Public opposition can sink a project before it even begins.  This neighborhood opposition often referred to as “Not in My Backyard” or “NIMBY” can cause delays, force changes to the residential makeup of projects and make untenable demands that can undermine the successful development of affordable housing.  The most often voiced objections concern issues as loss of property value, increased crime, unsightly design and poor management.  In response to these concerns, housing researchers have committed considerable time and money to study the evidence supporting or refuting these claims.  The research shows that well-managed housing that fits the scale of the host neighborhood seldom produces the negative impacts mentioned above.  Despite the strong opposition to affordable housing when proposed, there is considerable evidence that once developed, neighbors have few complaints about their new neighbors.  (“Public Opinion and Affordable Housing: A Review of the Literature”)

Strategies

1) Share your own story.  Talking from your own personal experience is powerful.

2) Educate the public about the realities of the risks they fear.  Share the facts and not the argument.  

3) Market the proposal in a more attractive manner.  Present a case for affordable housing that proves its value to the

community and share evidence showing the lack of negative externalities.  

Resources

Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP.gov)

Housing Affordability & Cost Burden (National Low-Income Housing Coalition)

Making Home Affordable (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development)

Making Home Affordable (U.S Department of the Treasury)   

The GAP: A Shortage of Affordable Homes March 2018 (National Low-Income Housing Coalition)

“Does Affordable Housing Detrimentally Affect Property Values?  A Review of the Literature.” by Mai Thi Nguyen

 “Barriers to Fair Housing Policy Implementation: Finance, Regulation, And Public Opinion.” by J. Rosie Tighe

“Public Opinion and Affordable Housing: A Review of the Literature.” by J. Rosie Tighe

Open Letter to the Community

 

 

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