Statement of California YIMBY regarding U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson’s View on Zoning and NIMBYs

Yesterday U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development released a statement via Twitter that claimed he is “Taking on the NIMBYs” by “reducing onerous zoning regulations,” and indicated that he is a YIMBY.

California YIMBY’s values include our belief in open, inclusive, and diverse communities, where neighbors welcome new neighbors, and where long-term residents are protected from the pressures of displacement. Our values inspire us to work every day to reform city and state policies that are holding back the development of new housing.

It’s because of these values that YIMBYs focus passionately on the substance of housing policy; so while we enjoy Twitter for conversation, tweets do not equal policy. Based on his policy stances and actions in office, combined with the actions of the President, Secretary Carson fails the most basic YIMBY values test.

By passing massive tax cuts for the wealthy, the Trump administration undermined the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, a vital source of funding for affordable housing. This spring, Mr. Carson announced plans to “triple rents for about 712,000 of the poorest tenants receiving federal housing aid.” His department stood silent when the administration tried to cut nearly $7 billion in funds for affordable and low-income housing, and is actively withholding urgently-needed funding for public transportation projects.

And his department’s efforts to undermine the Obama Administration’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule is in direct contradiction to his statements about “taking on NIMBYs.” AFFH is a vital tool in our efforts to create more integrated and affordable communities. In fact, California YIMBY supported successful efforts to protect AFFH in California against Carson’s efforts to undermine it.  

Secretary Carson willingly serves in an administration that consistently undermines and subverts core American and YIMBY values of tolerance, diversity and inclusivity. Its efforts to divide instead of unite are anathema to what we stand for.

Taken in the context of the Trump administration’s full suite of efforts to undermine affordable housing, we remain skeptical that Secretary Carson’s tweet will be matched by actions that will counter exclusionary zoning, open segregated communities to new neighbors, and make housing more affordable and accessible for all Americans.