Housing within Reach
What is NIMBY?
"Not In My Back Yard" (NIMBY) is a phenomenon that has arisen from efforts to integrate persons diagnosed with a mental illness or co-occurring disorder into residential communities. Based on misinformation, myth, fear of the unknown, and lack of education as to the nature of mental illness, people have attempted to put up barriers that would not apply to anyone else seeking permanent, safe, affordable, quality housing. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, familial status (the presence or anticipated presence of children under the age of 18 in a household) and disability. "Disability" was added to the Act in 1988, and one of the reasons Congress made this change was to address zoning restrictions and other barriers to housing for people with disabilities in residential neighborhoods. Municipalities had routinely found ways to bar people with disabilities from such neighborhoods, often in response to vocal opposition from homeowners in those neighborhoods. The Act prohibits disparate treatment of people with disabilities, rules or policies that have a disparate impact on people with disabilities, and failure to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices or procedures to allow people with disabilities the same use and enjoyment of housing as people without disabilities.
A Few Facts
It is popularly and wrongly believed that housing for people with disabilities will drive down property values in neighborhoods where it is located or will result in an increase in crime. Both beliefs have been repeatedly proven wrong by research. In many cases, property values go up with the introduction of a group home or other living arrangement. Researchers don't have precise explanations for this, but in many cases an agency providing housing for people with disabilities purchases a home that needs renovation, and the resulting improvements in the home pull up the quality of the surrounding neighborhood. In cases where property values do go down, typically it is a temporary slump related to panic-selling by nearby homeowners, and property values bounce back once those homeowners move and the neighborhood stabilizes again. Crime does not typically increase with the introduction of people with disabilities. People with disabilities are more likely to be the victims, not perpetrators, of crime.
A Place to Call Home: Addressing Opposition to Homes for People with Mental Illness in Tennessee Neighborhoods. This booklet, while not intended to be an exhaustive guide to dealing with NIMBY issues, should help providers of housing for people with disabilities anticipate, understand and deal with the obstacles they are likely to encounter when seeking sites for such housing.
Good Neighbors, Health Communities: A Community Guide to Fair Housing for People with Disabilities in Your Neighborhood. In this guide, you will find information on common misconceptions about group homes and similar facilities in community settings, state and federal law regarding housing discrimination, and where to find more information.
Navigating NIMBY: A Public Official’s Guide to Neighborhood Living for People with Disabilities. This handbook provides public officials with the information they need to make educated decisions that will keep them on the correct side of the law. It is also intended to provide strong, research-based, factual information that can give officials confidence that following the law will not lead to the negative consequences neighborhood residents often fear. This information should also help them educate their constituents about the realities of housing for people with disabilities to pave the way for smoother and more neighborly coexistence.
The Toolkit for Community Conversations About Mental Health is designed to support communities interested in holding conversations about mental health using consistent information and approaches. It includes three parts: an Information Brief, a Discussion Guide, and a Planning Guide. The toolkit will help communities and individuals start a conversation about mental health and help identify innovative and creative next steps to address the mental health needs of our Nation