YIMBYs Exposed: The Techies Hawking Free Market "Solutions" to the Nation's Housing Crisis
Publisher: In The Times
Date Written: 21/05/2018
Year Published: 2018
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX22950
Anti-displacement activists hate them. Tech firms and big developers love them -- and shower them with cash.
Tensions over the housing affordability crisis were on full display at an April 3 rally against a California housing development bill, SB 827. Low-income housing activists, largely seniors and people of color, crowded the steps of San Franciscos City Hall to protest a measure they believed would displace their communities.
When a white counter-protester, Sonja Trauss, waded into the crowd for a photo op next to their signs, she got into a physical altercation and was removed by a sheriffs deputy. Trauss says she was shoved.
The 36-year-old has gained national acclaim as the founder of the YIMBY movement, as in "Yes, In My Backyard." YIMBYs are self-described "grassroots, pro-housing" agitators who have become a major presence in high-cost, rapidly gentrifying markets like San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York City and Seattle. Their strategy is grounded in the free-market logic of supply and demand: Build more housing and housing costs will go down.
YIMBYs pose themselves as the antidote to the problem of not-in-my-backyard-ism. In San Francisco, that NIMBY stereotype has a basis in reality: "Concerned" neighborhood groups have, time and again, blocked new housing for reasons that range from aesthetic distaste to pearl-clutching about crime rates.