Real Estate

D.C. (71.2%), Chicago (54.3%) Lead U.S. in YIMBY Housing Development

Washington, D.C. and Chicago lead YIMBY movement with 71.2% and 54.3% YIMBY-friendly ZIP codes respectively.

By Doug Elli

6/10, 15:17 EDT
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Key Takeaway

  • Washington, D.C. (71.2%) and Chicago (54.3%) lead U.S. metro areas in YIMBY-friendly housing development, promoting higher density and co-ownership models.
  • The nationwide housing deficit stands at 2.5 million homes, with restrictive zoning laws historically limiting new construction.
  • Other top YIMBY cities include Austin, Minneapolis, Columbus, San Antonio, Philadelphia, NYC, Kansas City, and Salt Lake City with significant ZIP code qualifications for pro-housing policies.

YIMBY Movement Gains Momentum

San Francisco-based Pacaso, a tech-centric real estate marketplace, has released a report highlighting the top U.S. metro areas embracing new development to create a more diverse and plentiful supply of homes. The report delves into the "Yes in My Backyard" (YIMBY) movement, which aims to improve housing supply and lower the cost of living through various strategies, including partnerships between local governments and residents to rezone neighborhoods for greater density. This movement is gaining traction as communities seek innovative solutions to the nationwide housing deficit, which Realtor.com estimates at 2.5 million homes.

Leading the Charge: Washington, D.C. and Chicago

According to Pacaso's report, Washington, D.C. and Chicago lead the nation in YIMBY-friendly ZIP codes, with 71.2% and 54.3% respectively. In Washington, D.C., municipalities are adopting land-use policies that allow for more types of housing, such as Arlington County's "missing middle" ordinance, which permits homes with up to six units in areas previously zoned for single-family homes. Chicago has also revised ordinances to encourage affordable housing development, with 7% of its ZIP codes meeting high housing demand criteria and correlating strongly with other YIMBY metrics.

Broader Implications for Housing Markets

The significance of the YIMBY movement extends beyond individual cities. By promoting higher density and co-ownership models, these policies aim to maximize the functionality of existing homes and make better use of limited resources. This approach is crucial for addressing the housing crisis, as noted by Pacaso co-founder and CEO Austin Allison. The movement's success in cities like Washington, D.C. and Chicago serves as a model for other metro areas, demonstrating that proactive housing policies can lead to more options for homebuyers and renters.

Diverse Strategies Across Metro Areas

Other metro areas in the top 10 YIMBY-friendly cities include Austin, Minneapolis, Columbus, San Antonio, Philadelphia, New York City, Kansas City, and Salt Lake City. These cities have at least one-quarter of their ZIP codes qualifying as YIMBY-friendly, showcasing a variety of strategies to increase housing supply. For instance, Minneapolis has eliminated single-family zoning, allowing for more multi-family units, while Austin has implemented policies to streamline the development of accessory dwelling units (ADUs).

My Perspective: A Positive Shift

The YIMBY movement represents a positive shift in addressing the housing crisis. By embracing higher density and innovative housing models, cities can make significant strides in increasing housing supply and affordability. However, the success of these initiatives depends on the full implementation of pro-housing policies. As Jessamyn Garner of YIMBY Action points out, it's crucial for localities to advance these policies to reduce housing prices and improve living conditions. The momentum seen in Washington, D.C. and Chicago is encouraging, but sustained effort and broader adoption are necessary for long-term impact.

Street Views

  • Jessamyn Garner, YIMBY Action (Bullish on pro-housing policies):

    "It’s great to see examples of localities that are advancing pro-housing policies so activists, elected officials, and agencies can mirror their success in more places. In the coming years, it’s crucial that these policies are implemented to the fullest extent possible in order to reduce housing prices in these communities and beyond."

Management Quotes

  • Austin Allison, CEO of Pacaso:

    "When it comes to solving the housing crisis, we need a dual approach: more construction and more efficient use of existing housing stock. Communities across the country increasingly are open to innovative solutions, including higher density and co-ownership models that maximize the functionality of available homes. Embracing these strategies will lead to more options for homebuyers and better use of our limited resources."