Getting Affordable Housing in the Suburbs

How developers combat NIMBYism to build necessary housing.

Jessica Fiur, Managing Editor

Jessica Fiur, Editor-in-Chief

Community Facebook groups are … special places.

At any point, you’ll get a smattering of posts that range from the mundane to the annoying to the offensive:

“I saw unaccompanied kids riding their bikes down Main Street. Where are the parents?”

“Steak dinner recommendations. And go!”

“There was a police car in front of Target. What is going on with this world?”

“Saw some construction in town. What are they building? I hope it’s not condos.”

Yup, those groups are pretty much the worst. And it’s where you often get a front seat to NIMBYism. Especially in the suburbs, any whiff of building affordable housing causes people to panic.

Of course, developers are aware of this. In Gabriel Frank’s article “Mixed-Income Communities Rise to the Occasion,” NRP Group’s Aaron Pechota suggests that multifamily is a “dirty word” in the suburbs.

As we know, there is a national affordable housing shortage. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, “the U.S. has a shortage of 7.3 million rental homes affordable and available to renters with extremely low incomes.” And that doesn’t even account for the “missing middle,” which includes those who need affordable workforce housing. We need more multifamily developments—even in the suburbs—to house people with varying incomes.

How are owners and developers combating all the fearmongering in local groups? With education. Companies are partnering with town residents and officials to show them the benefits of building in their communities and using their websites to show what the final product will look like.

“What people don’t realize is that these properties are designed and built with the same attention to detail as any market-rate property,” Ryan von Weller of Wendover Housing Partners told Frank.

So, ultimately, we get more needed housing—and community buy-in. Win, win!

Read the April 2023 Digest.

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