NIMBY Report: National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty FWD

Tom Boland (
Sun, 28 Dec 1997 21:50:19 -0800 (PST)

FWD:  NIMBY Report

National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty
nlchp <>

For Immediate Release Contact: Maria Foscarinis
December 16, 1997 April Logan

Scrooges Oppose Needed Homeless Services
New Report Finds Private Homeless Facilities Often Thwarted

Washington, D.C. -- Every night more than 700,000 women, men and
children are homeless in the U.S. Yet when private groups attempt to
create new housing, shelter or services they often confront opposition
from community Scrooges, according to an investigative report released
at a press conference today by the National Law Center on Homelessness &
Poverty (NLCHP).

"At a time when the social safety net has been weakened, it is essential
that private groups attempting to fill the gap are able to offer badly
needed housing and services," said Maria Foscarinis, NLCHP Executive

The NLCHP report entitled Access Delayed, Access Denied is based on a
survey of 92 transitional housing providers in 71 cities and towns
awarded grants in the 1994 HUD Supportive Housing Program Competition.
Programs are selected by HUD after a tough national competition and on
the basis of demonstrated ability to operate programs for homeless

According to the report, in 100% of the surveyed cities and towns for
which information was available the supply of affordable housing is
insufficient to meet the need. Among the 59 cities for which such
information was available, 76% have a shortage of emergency shelter beds
and transitional housing slots to accommodate their homeless residents.

However, communities continue to send the message "good will to all, but
not in my backyard". Prospective neighbors or local governments
attempted to obstruct the siting of 41 % of the private transitional
housing programs that responded to the survey.

Governments are increasingly turning to the revision of their zoning
laws as a means of excluding facilities that serve homeless and other
poor people from their jurisdictions or particular parts of them At
least 8 cities have recently enacted new laws or amended existing ones
to increase restrictions on siting housing or service facilities for
homeless people or are considering doing so.

Residents and business owners used a variety of methods to exclude
providers, such as:

* voicing opposition at a public meeting or hearing in 82% of the cases
* voicing opposition to elected officials in 58% of the cases
* voicing opposition to the media in 30% of the cases
* signing petitions to prevent the program from opening in their
neighborhood in 21% of the cases

Reasons for concern and opposition listed by survey respondents were:

* a decrease in property values (64%)
* an increase in crime (61%)
* an increase in traffic or parking problems (39%)
* the facility would be unsightly or unattractive (18%)

"Efforts to exclude housing and service providers are counterproductive
and inhumane," Catherine Bendor, NLCHP Staff Attorney, said. "They
deprive homeless people opportunities to attain self sufficiency and
waste already scarce resources."

Among programs that reported Not In My BackYard (NIMBY) opposition,

* delayed the opening of the programs up to a year and six months in 39%
of the cases
* increased the cost of establishing the housing program in 17% of the
* forced 28% of the programs to move to a different site than the one
originally selected

The report also discusses the underlying reasons for NIMBY opposition
and provides examples of effective solutions to NIMBY conflict. As a
result of the report, the Law Center called for:

* Congress to reject pending legislation designed to limit the scope of
protections provided homeless people under the federal Fair Housing Act,
* Congress and HUD to increase the accountability on the part of local
governments that receive funding,
* HUD to use its position as an important source of funds to discourage
exclusionary zoning and other NIMBY efforts.

"We urge local governments, housing and service providers, and community
members to take constructive approaches to resolve siting conflicts,"
Foscarinis said.

For more information, please contact Maria Foscarinis or April Logan of
the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty at 202/638-2535.