Housing in Wyoming, Obstacles and Solutions -Part 2
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - In part one of our housing series, we looked at what the most expensive county in the state is doing to create workforce housing. In this second part, we’ll look at Cheyenne and housing history.
The next obstacle for housing projects is an old one.
It’s NIMBYism or Not in My Backyard.
”We’re trying to look at policy. To fix policy, and figure out how we got to a place where our wealth divide is so great and why it keeps growing,” said Brenda Birkle, Director of the Affordable Housing Taskforce and Executive Director of My Front Door.
According to Birkle, historically, if we look at access to housing resources, it has excluded women and people of color.
Birkle says after the stock market crash, from 1933 on, The Homeowners Loan Corporation established “Residential Security Maps” that defined areas that were “safe and risky.” These maps fell along racial lines, which limited access to government loans for some.
In 1944 “The Service Member Readjustment Act” limited access to unemployment benefits, education, and housing based on race.
In 1968 “The Fair Housing Act” established five protected classes to combat inequality but didn’t include gender until 1974 or family status until 1988. Affecting BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) and Single Moms the most, causing them to fall in greater numbers into cycles of poverty.
”Owning property has always been about building wealth and economic development. If you’re the government, it’s about economic development, and if it’s an individual or family, it’s really wealth,” said Birkle.
And in 2021, Wyoming’s Housing Bill 91 finally allowed for removing racist or unconstitutional housing covenants.
“Now, when you think about folks who say, ‘Gosh, I really understand we need housing, just not in my backyard.’ So when you think about NIMBY mentality, and you think about when they say, ‘Gosh, those people really don’t fit in our neighborhood.’ It’s really another word for classism, and classism has direct roots in racism,” said Birkle.
Authorities say that nimbyism supporters often say that local government and states right supersede all; therefore, nimbyism is the people’s will.
” If you are concerned about “those people” I would encourage you to do your research and find out about property values that have included a mix of different types of housing. You know, every income stream and use and find out what it does. I think you are going to be amazed that it actually brings up property values,” said Birkle.
Birkle says the “Yimbies” or Yes in My Backyard should be more vocal about building more places the workforce can afford.
” If you want workers and you want amenities, they have to have a pillow. It’s humane,” said Birkle.
In part three, we’ll look at possible solutions that are working and some that are being proposed as possible solutions.
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