U.S. House Says Yes In My Backyard

Pro-housing legislation passes U.S. House of Representatives

March 2, 2020 | Up for Growth
Reading time: 5 min

WASHINGTON, DC – The Yes in My Backyard (YIMBY) Act passed the House of Representatives with bipartisan support today, after clearing the House Financial Services Committee (FSC) on Friday. Introduced in 2019 by Rep. Denny Heck (D-WA) and Rep. Trey Hollingsworth (R-IN), H.R. 4351 requires Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) recipients to report on local policies that affect housing affordability. Policies cited in the legislation include multifamily zoning, minimum lot sizes, transit-oriented development zones, accelerating permitting timelines, and parking requirements. During last week’s FSC markup, new provisions such as density bonuses, easing height restrictions for residential properties, and incentivizing mixed-income developments were added to the legislation. The YIMBY Act does not condition CDBG funding on implementation of any specific policy, but rather encourages communities to become a part of the housing affordability conversation by highlighting the policies that improve housing affordability – and those that make housing more expensive.

“H.R. 4351 is a step in the right direction as we seek to address the affordable housing challenges that our country faces” said FSC Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) during Committee markup. “This bill would encourage localities to responsibly reduce barriers to housing development by requiring CDBG recipients to track and report on the implementation of certain land-use policies and promote housing development. This bill will also help shine a light on potentially discriminatory land-use policies that unnecessarily prevent affordable housing development in certain neighborhoods.”

“America is missing millions of homes, and solving our nationwide housing crisis will require federal, state, and local governments to work together towards this shared goal,” said Representative Heck. “Sunlight is the best disinfectant, and we need to identify and reduce barriers to housing construction at the local level. In passing the YIMBY Act, I am proud that Congress is taking a critical first step towards bringing relief to cost-burdened renters and homeowners across America.”

“We want more affordable homes for American families,” said Representative Hollingsworth. “Today’s bipartisan passage of YIMBY signals strong support across the aisle to reform our nation’s housing regulations at all levels of government.”

“Strong, bipartisan support for the YIMBY Act is an indication that housing affordability is not a red or blue issue,” said Mike Kingsella, Executive Director of Up for Growth Action. “Up for Growth Action and its membership from across the housing spectrum applaud Reps. Heck and Hollingsworth for their leadership in seeing the YIMBY Act through the House. Passage of this critical legislation shows that Congress is no longer ignoring the growing housing affordability crisis.”

Up for Growth Action led a coalition of 21 organizations in writing a letter of support for passage of the YIMBY Act. “The YIMBY Act will help communities recognize their own agency in the housing shortage and provide them with a framework for smarter policymaking,” wrote these organizations, which include Council for Affordable and Rural Housing, Habitat for Humanity International, National Multifamily Housing Council, Smart Growth America, and YIMBY Action. Up for Growth Action wrote about the YIMBY Act in a recent insights posts, which highlights some of the policies that fall under YIMBY Act jurisdiction and are currently being considered by cities and states across the country.

The legislation now moves to the Senate, where Senator Todd Young (R-IN) introduced the Senate version of the YIMBY Act; it is co-sponsored by Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI). The YIMBY Act is one of the key bills in Up for Growth Action’s legislative agenda, which includes the Build More Housing Near Transit Act and the Task Force on the Impact of the Affordable Housing Crisis Act. In addition to the YIMBY Act, FSC Chairwoman Waters’s Housing is Infrastructure Act last week, which is also included in Up for Growth Action’s legislative agenda. Learn more about H.R. 5187.

Up for Growth Action, a 501(c)(4) advocacy organization, fosters equitable growth by empowering a diverse member network in advancing research and policy that eliminate structural barriers to housing. You can learn more at http://www.upforgrowth.org.