Michael Seward: Typical NIMBY tactics in play in Amherst

Published: 7/12/2019 2:40:32 PM
Modified: 7/12/2019 2:40:20 PM

The recent guest columns published in the Gazette by critics of a proposed affordable housing project in Amherst reveal typical NIMBY (not in my backyard) tactics, which are as predictable as they are disingenuous. Those tactics include increasing the development costs and exerting pressure on funding sources, which includes town funding through the Community Preservation Act.

In the case of the Amherst project, NIMBY’s are attempting to increase costs by demanding that there be around-the-clock supervision. They do so through prejudice informed by ignorance and fear. In this case, they cite emergency call logs for what they say is a comparable property in Northampton, as if it is valid and appropriate to generalize all people of a certain socio-economic status. This claim also seems to attempt to prejudice the Town Council, which has to consider what increased emergency calls will cost the town. These types of cost-increasing NIMBY tactics are so common that the Department of Housing and Urban Development cites them on their website.

A review of the literature about affordable housing NIMBYism also states that it is most common in homogenous and affluent neighborhoods, much like the Amherst site. NIMBYism is also described as a fear-based phenomenon.  

The authors of the guest columns may claim that they are merely looking out for the well-being of the future occupants of the affordable housing project by demanding 24-hour supervision, but they are really speaking out for the well-being of themselves.  

Michael Seward

​​​​​​​Shelburne




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