H.R. 4351, The Yes in My Backyard (YIMBY) Act

H.R. 4351, The Yes in My Backyard (YIMBY) Act

Executive Summary

The Yes in My Backyard (YIMBY) Act encourages localities to eliminate discriminatory land use policies and remove barriers that prevent needed housing from being built around the country. The YIMBY Act achieves these goals by requiring Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) recipients to report periodically on the extent to which they are removing discriminatory land use policies and implementing inclusive and affordable housing policies detailed by the bill. The YIMBY Act increases transparency in land use, zoning, and housing decisions; sheds light on exclusionary polices; and ultimately encourage localities to eliminate barriers to much-needed housing.

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Background

  • According to Up for Growth’s Housing Underproduction in the U.S. report, the United States has underproduced housing by 7.3 million homes from 2000–2015.1
  • Exclusionary land use policies — including zoning and density restrictions, onerous parking requirements, and other burdensome development regulations — drive a severe housing shortage and affordability crisis.2
  • The Missing Millions of Homes report from the New Dems coalition shows that the cost of shelter has been the single largest increase in household budgets in the last 15 years and that the median US family now spends 42% of its income on housing.3
  • Housing underproduction also increases cost of living for families, inhibits geographic mobility, burdens both renters and buyers, and stifles economic productivity. By one estimate, from 1964- 2009, our national housing shortage lowered aggregate economic growth by 36 percent.4
  • Many of these land use policies are rooted in racism and classism. Their continued existence perpetuates housing discrimination and contributes to the housing affordability crisis affecting large parts of the United States.5

Legislative Solution

  • The YIMBY Act increases transparency and encourages more thoughtful and inclusive development practices by requiring localities to fully examine and disclose their housing policy decisions.
  • The bill provides localities a framework for smart policymaking and regulatory practices, thus promoting more inclusive development principles.
  • The YIMBY Act is an important first step in decreasing the barriers to smart, inclusive growth and reducing the negative and cumulative impact of exclusionary housing policies. It is also a way to clearly demonstrate that the federal government takes seriously the challenges created by exclusionary zoning.
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    Benefits

    • Requiring federal CDBG grant recipients to report on the extent to which they are eliminating exclusionary policies starts an important conversation that increases transparency in land use and housing policy.
    • The YIMBY Act breaks down barriers to growth and paves the way for increased economic productivity.
    • This important legislation provides a roadmap for communities to improve affordability and equity in housing.

    Footnotes

    (1) Up for Growth (2019). Housing Unproduction in the U.S. Retrieved from: https://www.upforgrowth.org/new-report-indicates-housing-shortage-more-severe-once-thought
    (2) Ikeda, Sanford & Emily Washington (2015). How Land Use Regulation Undermines Affordable Housing. Mercatus Research. Retrieved from: https://www.mercatus.org/system/files/Ikeda-Land-Use-Regulation.pdf
    (3) New Democrat Coalition (2018). Missing Millions of Homes: Preliminary Findings of the New Democrat Coalition Housing Task Force. Retrieved from: https://newdemocratcoalition.house.gov/imo/media/doc/NDC%20Missing%20Millions%20of%20Homes_Housing%20TF%20Findings%20Report_June%202018.pdf
    (4) Hsieh, Chang-Tai & Enrico Moretti (2019). Housing Constraints and Spatial Misallocation. American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics 2019, 11(2): 1 – 39. Retrieved from: https://faculty.chicagobooth.edu/chang-tai.hsieh/research/growth.pdf
    (5) Kingsella, Mike (May 2019). The Legacy of Redlining Lives on Today Through Exclusionary Zoning. Up for Growth. Retrieved from: https://www.upforgrowth.org/news/legacy-redlining-lives-today-through-exclusionary-zoning


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