Yes In My Backyard: Soothing the Ache for Home

By MNR News posted 06-20-2024 03:56 PM

Yes in My Backyard (YIMBY) is a national, bi-partisan coalition working to pave the way for more affordable housing across the United States. The Minnesota Realtor® spoke with Nichole Hayden of YIMBY’s Twin Cities chapter to learn about efforts to help communities tackle zoning laws, land use ordinances, and other restrictions that impede new developments and drive up the cost of housing. Hayden, who is a Realtor® with Edina Realty in Blaine, works closely on YIMBY initiatives with Sarah Rostance, also of Edina Realty, and Paige Kahle and Meghan Howard of The Real Estate Collaborative in St. Paul.

The lack of affordable housing is one of the biggest issues facing Minnesota and the nation. As members of YIMBY, how will you go about tackling these roadblocks?

Affordable housing is both a local and national crisis that didn't become a complex and far-reaching problem overnight. As such, its remedy requires a multi-pronged approach that targets legislative and grassroots solutions—immediate, short-term intervention that houses our unhousedand long term, systemic development that builds enough to catch up and sustain alongside demand. Our local Twin Cities YIMBY chapter is diving into solutions from a few different angles. This includes supporting higher density housing projects, developing strategic partnerships with other local organizations, and fostering community and education.

MNR: Why did you become involved in YIMBY? What inspired you to take action?
TC YIMBY: The four leads of Twin Cities YIMBY each have a unique housing story that moved us to get involved in this volunteer work. As local Realtors®, every day we see the impact on clients, friends, and family when housing is unaffordable and unattainable. We are steeped in the history of today's crisis and understand the real estate industry’s role in creating fertile ground for rapidly growing issues. As a team, we feel a deep responsibility to dig in, create change, and be part of the solution. A year or two ago, we all joined the Housing Affordability Task Force created by the Saint Paul Area Association of Realtors® because they heard our community demanding solutions for affordability challenges. Although we are still part of it, we were ready to move further and faster. The fact that YIMBY is an organized, national movement allowed us to jump right in with like-minded people who are doing this work all over the country. 

What kind of work are you doing for YIMBY? Why is it important to you—both personally and professionally?

TC YIMBY: We are working to empower and amplify the Yes voices. Yes, to more housing. Yes, to more neighbors. Yes, in my backyard. We believe that growing a strong network of support for increased housing development of all kinds will create more affordable housing. The more we learn about barriers to development and affordability—like zoning laws, land use ordinances, and unnecessary mandates—the more we can educate our neighbors and friends. Also, the more people understand how seemingly mundane bureaucracies directly impact the cost of their homes, the more they’ll show up and make their voices heard. Professionally speaking, more houses mean we get to do more of the work we loveconnecting people to homes. All of us have sincere gratitude for the homes we go to at night. When we help more people achieve their dream of home, whether it’s a single-family house or a high-rise apartment, we are positively impacting our communities. As Maya Angelou so eloquently said, "The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned." 

Learn more about Twin Cities YIMBY. 

To read this article in the May/June 2024 digital issue of The Minnesota Realtor® magazine, click here.