NMHC White Paper Offers Facts and Strategies to Overcome Opposition to New Apartment Construction

Jan. 22, 2007
Paper examines the nature of resistance, reasons behind it, and how it can be overcome

The Washington, D.C.-based National Multi Housing Council (NMHC) has published a new white paper, Overcoming Opposition to Multifamily Rental Housing: Facts and Strategies, to help apartment firms turn back not-in-my-backyard (NIMBY) opposition to rental housing. The document, which was originally produced for Harvard University’s National Policy Summit on Rental Housing, is now being made available to all industry participants at no cost as a valuable resource to advance rental housing.

The white paper, which was co-authored by NMHC’s Chief Economist Mark Obrinsky and Debra Stein, president of GCA Strategies and a noted expert in countering community opposition to rental housing, examines the nature of local resistance, the reasons behind it, and how it can be overcome. It is organized in two sections. The first identifies (and offers evidence to refute) the most common arguments against apartments. The second offers tactics and strategies to mobilize support for specific apartment properties.

“Recent research shows that land-use regulations in 30 of the 50 largest metropolitan areas would prohibit a hypothetical 2-story, 40-unit apartment property,” explains Doug Bibby, NMHC president. “As a country, however, we must overcome this bias against multi-family housing if we are going to meet our national housing needs in an environmentally sustainable and fiscally responsible way.”

“The U.S. is expected to grow by 68 million people over the next 20 years,” says Bibby. “That is twice as many people as live in today’s most populous state: California. We will need some 50 million new housing units between 2005 and 2030 to house all of these people. This daunting challenge is made even more difficult if we continue to discourage higher-density rental housing. We need to rethink the kinds of communities we build, but we have to first get past the misperceptions, exaggerations, and unfounded beliefs about apartments. That’s what this paper seeks to do.”

The white paper takes on misplaced notions that apartments lower nearby property values, overburden schools, produce less revenue for local governments, exacerbate traffic congestion, and increase crime rates.

“We know that that the arguments against apartments do not stand up to scrutiny,” explains Bibby, “so we continue to offer evidence to refute them. But, we also know that, for many, anecdotes trump statistics. So, this paper goes one step further and outlines the five essential components of a successful outreach campaign to win support for proposed apartment property. It examines ways to improve the public information process, to constructively engage neighbors, to identify and recruit potential sponsors, and how to manage the public-hearing process.”

This information was provided by the National Multi Family Housing Council, a national association representing the interests of the larger and most prominent apartment firms in the U.S. NMHC’s members are the principal officers of firms engaged in all aspects of the apartment industry, including owners, developers, managers, and financiers. Overcoming Opposition to Multifamily Rental Housing: Facts and Strategies can be downloaded from NMHC’s website at no cost at www.nmhc.org/content/Servecontent.cfm?contentItemID=4204. To find out more about NMHC or view a wide variety of free advocacy tools that apartment firms can use to promote rental housing, visit (www.nmhc.org).

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