By Carolyn Weber. Everyone in the home building business has heard of, if not dealt with, NIMBYs--the not-in-my-backyard crews opposed to new development. But in an interesting turnaround, new groups calling themselves YIMBYs (yes in my backyard) have emerged. According to the report, "Workforce Housing: The New Economic Imperative?" from the Fannie Mae Foundation's "Facts & Findings," an anti-NIMBYism backlash is brewing. In California, The San Francisco Organizing Project is a contingent of religious and community leaders publicizing the YIMBY message to encourage affordable workforce housing development in their city.
Meanwhile, in Maine, where NIMBYs are particularly active, there is a severe shortage of affordable housing. Service workers cannot afford to live in the towns in which they work. In an effort to sway public opinion, the Maine State Housing Authority (MSHA) produced a series of print ads depicting nurses, firefighters, and teachers that read, "She can save your life, but she can't be your neighbor." "We're trying to bring the issue to the attention of the public," says Dan Simpson, director of public information for MSHA. The authority hopes to distribute the materials and educate civic and municipal groups about the benefits of higher density housing and the strain that sprawl puts on the economy and infrastructure.