No one should be permitted to revel in the schadenfreude about millennial living arrangements without confronting what’s behind them: the sky-high cost of renting in U.S. cities. A growing number of frustrated young people lay the problem at the feet of the anti-development baby boomer, thwarting efforts to expand the housing stock and driving up his own home value in the process.
In practice, that means pushing planners to reject high-cost projects (“gentrification!”) and low-cost projects (“crime rates!”) and everything in between (“neighborhood character!”).
It’s a classic case of a seemingly innocuous attitude that, perpetuated over and over again in hundreds of different meetings and across residential neighborhoods, has worked to effectively constrain the housing supply, endowing one generation with a windfall in home values and dooming the next to a lifetime of rent payments.
And so it’s perfect fodder for a cheeky public-service campaign, "Neighbors for More Neighbors," launched by Ryan Johnson and John Edwards of Minneapolis. Their posters, in a sendup of the square, hectoring style of PSAs, offer a humorous reminder of those pernicious acts of NIMBYism that surround us.
Johnson, who was inspired by the burgeoning YIMBY movement (yes in my backyard), hopes the posters could provide an entry point for renters, who tend to be outnumbered at planning meetings. “I don’t think [zoning] is inaccessible,” he said. “It’s just so mundane that no one is interested in getting into it. And that’s where I think art is important: You can boil down these arguments and everyone can understand.”
The posters are available for purchase here.