The YIMBY movement (short for "yes in my back yard"), based on supply-side economic theory, mostly focuses on public housing policy, encouraging real estate development, opposing zoning regulations, public transportation, and pedestrian safety in transportation planning. It stands in opposition to NIMBY ("not in my back yard") tendencies, which generally oppose most forms of urban development in order to maintain the status quo.[1][2][3] As a popular organized movement in the United States, it began in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 2010s amid a major housing affordability crisis and has subsequently become a potent political force in state and local politics across the United States.[4][5]

The YIMBY position supports increasing the supply of housing within cities where housing costs have escalated to unaffordable levels.[6] They have also supported infrastructure development projects like improving housing development[7] (especially for affordable housing[8] or trailer parks[9]), high-speed rail lines,[10][3] homeless shelters,[11] day cares,[12] schools, universities and colleges,[13][14] bike lanes, and transportation planning that promotes pedestrian safety infrastructure.[2] YIMBYs often seek rezoning that would allow denser housing to be produced or the repurposing of obsolete buildings, such as shopping malls, into housing.[15][16][17] Some YIMBYs have also supported public-interest projects like clean energy or alternative transport.[18][19][20][21]

The YIMBY movement has supporters across the political spectrum, including left-leaning adherents who believe housing production is a social justice issue, free-market libertarian proponents who think the supply of housing should not be regulated by the government, and environmentalists who believe land use reform will slow down exurban development into natural areas.[22] YIMBYs argue cities can be made increasingly affordable and accessible by building more infill housing,[23][24][25]: 1 and that greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by denser cities.[26]


The term started being used in the 1980s as a position in opposition to NIMBYism. By 1991, YIMBY was already an established term and had been since the 1980s, understood to mean "Yes-in-many-backyards".[27]

A 1993 essay published in the Journal of the American Planning Association entitled "Planners' Alchemy, Transforming NIMBY to YIMBY: Rethinking NIMBY" used 'YIMBY' in general reference to development, not only housing development.[28]

The pro-housing YIMBY position emerged in regions experiencing unaffordable housing prices. The Guardian and Raidió Teilifís Éireann say this movement began in the San Francisco Bay area in the 2010s due to high housing costs created as a result of the local technology industry adding many more jobs to the region than the number of housing units constructed in the same time span.[29][30]

California YIMBY, the first political YIMBY group, was founded with the funding of Bay Area tech executives and companies. Dustin Moskovitz (Facebook, Asana) and his wife Cari Tuna donated $500,000 via their Open Philanthropy foundation; Nat Friedman (Xamarin, GitHub) and Zack Rosen (Pantheon Systems) donated another $500,000. Another $1 million donation came from the online payments company Stripe.[31]

Political spectrum

The debate over YIMBY policies does not follow the usual political lines with YIMBYs activists often aligning from all over the political spectrum.[32] However, surveys of both the mass public and of elected officials show that Democrats are more likely than Republicans to support dense, multifamily housing.[33] A 2024 study of mayors and city councils shows that "electing a Democrat as mayor leads to increased multifamily housing production. These effects are concentrated in cities where councils have less power over land use changes."[33]

A major part of the political coalition aligned with the movement include environmentalists and proponents of sustainability, which support measures to deregulate zoning for a variety of reasons. Urban development with higher density levels and fewer restrictions on land use reduces the population’s need to travel by automobile, and thus, cities’ need to develop car-based infrastructure, which in the United States accounts for 29% of all greenhouse gas emissions.[34]

Furthermore, higher urban density reduces the total area of land occupied by housing developments. This opens up land to be used either for natural conservation or for low-intrusion clean energy developments such as wind or solar farms, both of which are goals of the broader environmental movement that can be achieved through land use deregulation.

Conversely, because "NIMBY" is often used as a pejorative,[35] self-identified NIMBYs are rare, but opposition to YIMBY policies comes from some progressives,[36][37] right-wing figures like Donald Trump[38] and Tucker Carlson,[39] historical preservationists, local power brokers,[40] homeowners concerned about their property values,[41] and renter advocates concerned about resident displacement and gentrification who disagree with the view among progressive housing economists that displacement is caused by lack of enough housing.[42][43] In local elections, opposition to YIMBY policies is particularly pronounced; studies show that voter turnout among landowners nearly doubles when zoning issues are on the ballot. [44]

Evidence from California suggests that support for development is often higher when the development is less local. For example, a statewide upzoning bill will have more popular support statewide than a new apartment building will have from the immediate neighbors.[45] This can vary by state. While the national Sierra Club is in favor of infill development, local Sierra Club chapters in California oppose making development easier in their own cities.[46] A 2019 poll conducted by Lake Reach Partners for California YIMBY found that support for more infill development is higher among renters, Democrats, and Black people, though it enjoys majority support among all groups in California.[47]

Opposition to market-rate housing has been referred to as "PHIMBY",[48] for "public housing in my backyard". Similarly, requiring a very high inclusionary (i.e., subsidized) percentage for new construction can result in less housing development, as subsidized homes are often more expensive to build than market-rate ones.[49]

The origins of the modern YIMBY movement are separate from existing tenants' rights groups,[50] which are suspicious of their association with young, white technology workers[51] and may be wary of disrupting the status quo, which allows incumbent groups to use discretionary planning processes to negotiate for benefits while slowing development in general.[40][52] Some have cited high vacancy rates and high rents in high-demand cities as a sign that increasing market-rate housing does not improve affordability.[53] A common misconception is the "supply skepticism", which claims new housing would draw more migration than it houses and this would worsen the housing crisis further.[54][55]

Academic research

Academic research has yielded some generalizable results on the effects of upzoning, the root causes of unaffordability, and the most efficacious policy prescriptions to help low-income workers in prosperous cities.

Housing supply and prices

Shifts of demand curve change equilibrium price and quantity in the same direction
Shifts of supply curve change equilibrium price and quantity in opposite directions

Studies show that strict land use regulations reduce housing supply and raise the price of houses and land.[56][57][58][59]

Some research into the granular effects of additional housing supply shows that new housing units in hot markets do not raise the rate of increase in nearby market-rate units. This has been observed in outer boroughs of New York City (though not within 3.14 miles of the Empire State Building),[60] in San Francisco,[61] in Helsinki,[62] and across multiple cities.[63] Additionally, in California, new market-rate housing reduced displacement and slowed rises in rent.[64]

Upzoning (rezoning for more housing) in the absence of additional housing production appeared to raise prices in Chicago,[65] though the author disputed that this could lead to general conclusions about the affordability effects of upzoning.[66]

In Auckland, New Zealand, the introduction of upzoning led to a stimulation of the housing construction industry and an increase in the city’s supply of housing.[67]

In Portland, Oregon, an analysis of 17 years of land use deregulation policies found that individual land parcels in upzoned areas had significantly higher probabilities of development, density creation, and net additions to the Portland housing supply.[68]

Another study published in Urban Studies in 2006 observed price trends within Canadian cities and noted very slow price drops for older housing over a period of decades; the author concluded that newly constructed housing would not become affordable in the near future, meaning that filtering was not a viable method for producing affordable housing, especially in the most expensive cities.[69]

A more recent study on the subject of housing elasticity found an opposite conclusion; while newly constructed housing was often purchased at higher prices, the increase in supply at the high end of the market drove down prices everywhere else, leading to material benefits for people across all income groups.[70]

Affordability and homelessness

The change in rent is inversely proportional to vacancy rates in a city, which are related to the demand for housing and the rate of construction.[71] Homelessness rates are correlated with higher rents, especially in areas where rent exceeds 30% of an area's median income.[72][73] Homelessness is driven by a number of causes, but it is more difficult to address homelessness in areas that suffer from a shortage of housing.[74]

A 2023 survey of homeless individuals in California found that among typical causes of homelessness, many people were driven into homelessness due to high rents and low incomes which could not cover the cost of rent.[75] YIMBY proponents would seek to lower rents by expanding the supply of housing. California's high housing prices are directly tied to a lack of housing supply.[76]

Racial segregation and immigration

Research shows that strict land use regulations contribute to racial housing segregation in the United States.[77][78] Surveys have shown that white communities are more likely to have strict land use regulations and whites are more likely to support those regulations.[77] Improved price elasticity of new housing supply reduces the typical increases of local rents and house prices due to immigration.[79] Immigration affects demand and supply of housing.[79]


Proponents of the YIMBY movement argue that eliminating restrictions on land use, in particular the common zoning regulations that only allow certain land to be developed as single-family homes, would increase economic growth.

A 2019 study by Chang-Tai Hsieh and Enrico Moretti in the American Economic Journal found that liberalization of land use regulations would lead to enormous productivity gains. The study estimated that strict land use regulations "lowered aggregate US growth by 36 percent from 1964 to 2009."[80][81][82]

Similarly, a study conducted by the National Bureau of Economic research also estimated that deregulating land use in the United States would lead to productivity gains, with domestic output projected to increase between 3-6% and economic well-being lifted by 3-9%.[83]

Regional movements


In Toronto, a self-styled YIMBY movement was established in 2006 by community members in response to significant development proposals in the West Queen West area, and a YIMBY festival, launched the same year, has been held annually since.[84][85] The festival's organizer stated that "YIMBYism is a community mindset that's open to change and development."[85] An advocacy group called HousingNowTO fights to maximize the number of homes when the government builds housing.[86][87] Another group, More Neighbours Toronto (MNTO), advocates for policy changes to increase the housing supply.[88]

In Vancouver, Abundant Housing Vancouver was formed in 2016 to support more housing.[89][90] In Ottawa, Make Housing Affordable was formed in 2021 to advocate for YIMBY policies.


In 2014, the blog YIMBY Bratislava was created as a response to rising aversion to development in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. The blog informs about development in the city, promotes it, but also criticizes it. In 2018 it was renamed to YIM.BA — Yes In My Bratislava.[91] It is a private blog of one author with the fan group of its readers and fans on Facebook.

The Netherlands

In 2012, the YIMBY platform RTM XL in Rotterdam was created as a response to rising aversion to the development of the Zalmhaven tower in Rotterdam. RTM XL informs about development in the city, promotes it, but also criticizes policies of the city on development and mobility. In recent years similar platforms EHVXL in Eindhoven, DHXL in The Hague and UTRXL in Utrecht were founded.


Yimby is an independent political party network founded in Stockholm in 2007, which advocates physical development, densification and promotion of urban environment with chapters in Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Uppsala.[92][citation needed] The group believes that the PBL (Plans and Constructions Act, from 1987) is a major impediment to any new construction, and should be eliminated or dramatically reformed.[93]

United Kingdom

London YIMBY was set up in 2016, publishing its first report with the Adam Smith Institute in 2017[94] which received national press coverage.[95] Its members advocate a policy termed 'Better Streets'. This proposal would allow residents of individual streets to vote by a two-thirds majority to pick a design code and allow extensions or replacement buildings of up to five or six stories, allowing suburban homes to be gradually replaced by mansion blocks. This flagship policy has achieved a degree of recognition, being endorsed by former Liberal Democrat MP Sam Gyimah[96] and the former leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg.[97]

Other YIMBY groups have been set up in individual London boroughs and in cities suffering similar housing shortages, such as Brighton, Bristol and Edinburgh.

Members of the British YIMBY movement have been critical of established planning organisations such as the Town and Country Planning Association and the Campaign to Protect Rural England, accusing them of pursuing policies that worsen Britain's housing shortage.[98][99]

United States


The YIMBY movement has been particularly strong in California, a state experiencing a substantial housing shortage crisis.[100] Since 2017, YIMBY groups in California have pressured California state and its localities to pass laws to expedite housing construction, follow their own zoning laws, and reduce the stringency of zoning regulations.[100] YIMBY activists have also been active in helping to enforce state law on housing by bringing law-breaking cities to the attention of authorities.[101]

Since 2014, in response to California's housing affordability crisis, several YIMBY groups were created in the San Francisco Bay Area.[102][103] These groups have lobbied both locally and at the state level for increased housing production at all price levels, as well as using California's Housing Accountability Act (the "anti-NIMBY law")[102]: 1 [103]: 1 to sue cities when they attempt to block or downsize housing development.[102] The New York Times explained about one organization: "Members want San Francisco and its suburbs to build more of every kind of housing. More subsidized affordable housing, more market-rate rentals, more high-end condominiums."[103]

In 2017, YIMBY groups successfully lobbied for the passage of Senate Bill 35 (SB 35), which streamlines housing under certain criteria, among other "housing package" of bills.[104]

From 2018 to 2020, the lobbying group California YIMBY joined over 100 Bay Area technology industry executives in supporting state senator Scott Wiener's Senate Bills 827 and 50. The bills failed in the state senate after multiple attempts at passage.[105]: 1[106]: 1[107] California YIMBY received $100,000 from Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman, $1 million from Irish entrepreneurs John and Patrick Collison through their company, Stripe, and $500,000 raised by Pantheon Systems CEO Zach Rosen and GitHub CEO Nat Friedman.[108][109]

YIMBY groups in California have supported the split roll effort to eliminate Proposition 13 protections for commercial properties, and supported the ballot measure known as Proposition 15, which would implement this change but failed to pass in 2020. This change would have potentially incentivized local governments to approve commercial property development (for its attendant business, payroll, sales and property tax revenue) over residential development, while providing a significant new source of funding for localities, mostly earmarked for education.[110]


Since 2012, several YIMBY groups were established in the greater Boston area.[111][112][113] One group argues that "...more smart housing development is the only way to retain a middle class in pricey cities like Boston and Cambridge."[114]

New York

Several YIMBY groups, chiefly Open New York, have been created in New York City; according to an organizer: "In high-opportunity areas where people actually really want to live, the well-heeled, mostly white residents are able to use their perceived political power to stop the construction of basically anything," adding that low-income communities don't share that ability to keep development at bay: "Philosophically, we think that the disproportionate share of the burden of growth has been borne by low income, minority or industrial neighborhoods for far too long."[115].

In 2011, a news website called New York YIMBY was created that focuses on construction trends in New York City.[116] While this news website is not strictly related to YIMBY political movement, in an interview with Politico, the creator of the site stated: "Zoning is the problem, not development in this city. I think people don't really understand that."[117]


In September 2018, the third annual Yes In My Backyard conference, named "YIMBYTown" occurred in Boston, hosted by that area's YIMBY community.[118] The first YIMBY conference was held in 2016 in Boulder, Colorado[119] and hosted by a group that included Boulder's former mayor, who commented that: "It is clearer than ever that if we really care about solving big national issues like inequality and climate change, tackling the lack of housing in thriving urban areas, caused largely by local zoning restrictions, is key."[120] The second annual conference was held in the San Francisco Bay Area city of Oakland, California.[121] These conferences have attracted attendees from the United States, as well as some from Canada, England, Australia, and other countries.[122][25]

List of North American organizations

Name Area
5th Square[123] Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
A Better Cambridge[124] Cambridge, Massachusetts
Abundant Housing LA[104] Greater Los Angeles
Abundant Housing Massachusetts[125] Massachusetts
Abundant Housing Vancouver[89][90] Vancouver
AURA[126][127] Austin, Texas
Bend YIMBY[128] Bend, Oregon
California Renters Legal Advocacy and Education Fund (CaRLA)[128] California
California YIMBY[105] California
East Bay for Everyone[128] San Francisco East Bay
East Bay YIMBY[128] San Francisco East Bay
Greater Greater Washington[128] Washington metropolitan area
Greenbelt Alliance San Francisco Bay Area
Grow the Richmond[128] Richmond District, San Francisco
Legal Towns Foundation New Jersey
Open New York[129] New York City
Dallas Neighbors For Housing[130] Dallas, Texas
More Neighbours Toronto Toronto
Neighbors for More Neighbors[128] Minneapolis
People for Housing Orange County[128] Orange County, California
Peninsula for Everyone[128] San Francisco Peninsula
Portland for Everyone[128] Portland, Oregon
Santa Cruz YIMBY Santa Cruz, California
SF YIMBY[128] San Francisco
Sightline Institute[128] Pacific Northwest
Somerville YIMBY[131] Somerville, Massachusetts
Sustainable Growth Yolo Yolo County, California
SV@Home[128] Santa Clara County, California
Up for Growth[128] United States
Vermonters for People Oriented Places[132] Vermont
YIMBY Action[128][129] United States
YIMBY Democrats of San Diego County[128] San Diego County, California
YIMBY Denver[133] Denver
YIMBY Durham[128] Durham, North Carolina


Wilmington, North Carolina
YIMBY Law[128] California
YIMBYs of Northern Virginia Northern Virginia

See also


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