NIMBY, Equity and Liability for Communities

NIMBY Equity and Liability: Why Planners Need to Understand Fair Housing Law

During the October, 2022 APA Idaho Conference in Boise, Approximately 60 planning professionals heard from experts Erin Anderson (Director, The Housing Company) and Don Elliott, FAICP, J.D. (Director, Clarion Associates) on the impacts of growing NIMBY opposition to residential development that is affordable and/or serves diverse populations. The session references findings and comments from the most recent 2022 Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing, and provides examples of barriers to fair housing choice and best practices in planning to reduce violations and liability. The session was moderated by Erik Kingston, PCED (Housing Resources Coordinator, IHFA).

Session Description. Housing availability and affordability are top of mind for every community. As local government seeks to cultivate housing diversity and choice, persistent local opposition to multifamily housing, density or diversity poses both a barrier and liability. The Fair Housing Act defines an “aggrieved person” as “any person who . . . claims to have been injured by a discriminatory housing practice,” and the Act expressly protects the rights of housing developers—as well as minorities, families or people with disabilities.

When developers of otherwise conforming subsidized projects are consistently denied permits because of neighborhood pushback, local governments may be liable. NIMBY can drive emotionally charged short-term thinking about what should be long-term planning and development strategies. This panel of fair housing, planning and legal experts will explore existing case law and invite participants to a discussion of practical civic engagement strategies to stay focused on planning principles and long-term community benefits.

Watch the session video (Courtesy, APA Idaho Chapter)