U.S. Senators Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawai’i) reintroduced the Yes In My Backyard (YIMBY) Act to shed light on discriminatory land zoning policies, encourage localities to cut burdensome regulations, and bring a new level of transparency to the community development process.
Instead of adopting inclusive land use policies that allow citizens of all income levels, backgrounds, and identities to live, work, and flourish in their city or town, some communities are building paper walls of regulations that negatively affect and sometimes discriminate against low- and middle-income Americans. In the midst of a nationwide housing affordability crisis, this legislation would ensure localities do their part to make housing more affordable for everyone.
“Discriminatory local zoning and land use policies drive up housing costs in communities across America,” said Senator Young. “These policies exacerbate the housing affordability crisis and stifle the ability of Americans to move to areas of opportunity. My legislation will require cities, towns, and rural areas across America to face this reality under a new level of transparency and encourage them to cut these harmful regulations.”
“In order to reverse anti-housing policies, we need to know where they are in place and how they hurt communities. Our bill will provide HUD and the public with more transparency on policies that are stopping much-needed housing from being built,” said Senator Schatz.
U.S. Representatives Derek Kilmer (D-WA-6) and Mike Flood (R-NE-1) introduced the House companion bill.
“Our nation had challenges with housing before the pandemic – and those challenges have only grown since then. We need more workforce housing, more senior housing, more homeless housing, and more affordable housing. We need more housing units, period,” said Representative Kilmer. “That’s why I’m leading bipartisan legislation in the House to help communities in our region and across the country reduce barriers to construction and build more homes that folks can afford.”
“Affordable housing is a top issue for many communities across the country. The Yes in My Backyard Act will help boost America’s housing supply and strengthen the Community Development Block Grant program, which has served our country well for many years. It’s an honor to help lead this bipartisan effort to keep housing costs down for working American families,” said Representative Flood.
Specifically, the YIMBY Act would require Community Development Block Grant recipients to report on whether they have already adopted certain anti-discriminatory land use policies and/or to submit a plan for implementing said policies and the ways in which adopting the policy would benefit the jurisdiction. Some of the policies encouraged by the bill, include enacting high-density single-family and multifamily zoning, allowing manufactured homes in areas zoned primarily for single-family residential homes, reducing minimum lot size, and allowing single-room occupancy development wherever multifamily housing is allowed.
This requirement would provide more transparency for citizens, lawmakers, academics, and others to understand and in some cases, critique, a community’s rationale for not adopting anti-discriminatory housing policies. By using this approach, the bill avoids encroaching on the rights of states and localities to set zoning policies, but conditions federal funds on transparency about their rationale when choosing not to remove or reform harmful land use regulations.
Mike Kingsella, CEO of Up for Growth Action, said, “Despite a decade of economic growth, the American housing crisis has worsened, falling 3.8 million homes short of demand. The YIMBY Act, led by Senators Todd Young and Brian Schatz, is an innovative response. It fosters policy transparency and encourages pro-housing initiatives without imposing rigid mandates. This Act clears the way for affordable, equitable, and sustainable communities. Up for Growth Action urges Congress to endorse the YIMBY Act, saying ‘yes’ to housing.”
Bob Pinnegar, President and CEO of the National Apartment Association, said,“Hard-working Americans deserve a real solution to housing affordability challenges, like the bi-partisan YIMBY Act. The National Apartment Association is proud to support this important bill, which will help ease our nation’s affordability crisis and spur construction of much-needed affordable and market based housing. Sens. Young (R-Ind.) and Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Reps. Killmer (D-WA-06) and Flood (R-NE-01) have demonstrated tremendous leadership on this issue and their hard work will help expand affordable housing options in communities nationwide.”
Brent Gardner, Chief Government Affairs Officer for Americans for Prosperity, said,“Life has become more unaffordable for all Americans and for years local governments have unnecessarily created barriers that restrict supply and artificially inflate the cost of housing. AFP welcomes the introduction of the bipartisan Yes in My Backyard Act to help ensure that governments identify and assess regulations that block individuals and families from accessing housing and using land in the way that most benefits them.”
For the full bill text, click here.
Senator Young first introduced the Yes In My Backyard Act in 2019 and reintroducedthe legislation in 2021. Following the 2021 reintroduction, the YIMBY Act was selectedby the National Taxpayers Union for their 11th Annual No Brainers List as a bipartisan, common-sense solution to a problem facing taxpayers.