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  • Writer's pictureAndre Watson

Barack Obama blasts liberal NIMBYs

Not-in-my-backyard crosses partisan lines, raises housing costs

By: TRD Staff

44th U.S. President Barack Obama (Getty Images, iStock/Photo Illustration by Steven Dilakian for The Real Deal)

Unlike many issues, NIMBYism doesn’t adhere to party lines. But it’s rare for leaders to call out not-in-my-backyarders on their own side of the political spectrum.

Barack Obama just did, blasting progressives’ role in the housing crisis.

“The most liberal communities in the country aren’t that liberal when it comes to affordable housing,” the former president said during the American Institute of Architects Conference, according to Curbed.

He cited “bipartisan resistance” to affordable housing development as a reason it is so hard to build.

Resistance to development that increases density and affordability is an issue that unites the left, center and right. A Redfin survey prior to the 2020 presidential election found nearly 75 percent of residents opposed more housing density in their neighborhoods.

“While many Americans across both major parties can agree that there’s a need for more housing — particularly affordable housing — both Democrats and Republicans are reluctant to see their own neighborhoods become more dense,” Redfin chief economist Daryl Fairweather said in a Redfin article about the survey.

Affordable housing is becoming an increasingly noticeable issue as rents and home prices rise in most of the country. In May, housing affordability reached its lowest point since at least 2007, according to Zillow.

Economists blame rising costs on housing supply not keeping pace with demand, while politicians have typically focused on creating income-restricted housing. New York Mayor Eric Adams has made that promise, but this month declined to set a numerical goal.

One obstacle to affordability has been the unfounded notion that development triggers gentrification and makes housing more expensive. Ironically, the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago has caused that concern. A Chicago nonprofit is buying residential properties near the development in an effort to keep rents down and limit displacement.

[Curbed] — Holden Walter-Warner Contact Holden Walter-Warner

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