It’s no secret that housing costs are climbing and income is struggling to keep up. It’s a complex problem with a lot of loud voices. One of the newest voices, however, is the YIMBY (“Yes In My Backyard”) movement.
This growing number of influential activists are calling for more construction and denser cities in order to increase affordability. Max Holleran’s book, Yes to the City, offers an in-depth look at the movement and how it fits into the larger debate of how we shape where we live.
From YIMBY’s origins in San Francisco to its current group of activists pushing for new apartment towers in places like Boulder, Austin, and London, Holleran explores how changing the way we look at urban density can make an impact. Once blamed for overpopulated slums, urban density has become a rallying cry for millennial activists locked out of housing markets and simultaneously unable to pay high rents. For many, the YIMBY movement has become a way forward. Yet, with many points of view and powers at play in this fast-changing public debate, there is much tension between activists and proponents of other housing movements.
In this installment of Town Hall’s In the Moment podcast, Marcus Harrison Green talks with Holleran about the current state of the housing movement, the history that got us here, and how both might shape the future of where we live.
Max Holleran is Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Melbourne. His work focuses on urban development in Europe and the United States, particularly how cities manage tourism. He has written about gentrification, architectural aesthetics, post-socialist urban planning, and European Union integration for anthropology, sociology, geography, and history journals. His work on cities and politics has also appeared in Australian Book Review, Boston Review, Contexts, Dissent, Slate, and many other publications. He is currently an Urban Studies Foundation research fellow. He is the author of Tourism, Urbanization, and the Evolving Periphery of the European Union.
Marcus Harrison Green is the publisher of the South Seattle Emerald and a columnist with The Seattle Times. Growing up in South Seattle, he experienced first-hand the impact of one-dimensional stories on marginalized communities, which taught him the value of authentic narratives. After an unfulfilling stint in the investment world during his twenties, Marcus returned to his community with a newfound purpose of telling stories with nuance, complexity, and multidimensionality with the hope of advancing social change. This led him to become a writer and found the South Seattle Emerald. He was awarded the Seattle Human Rights Commissions’ Individual Human Rights Leader Award for 2020.
Presented by Town Hall Seattle.