Microblog #24: Single Family Homes: A Barrier to Affordability?

Grappling with the Intersection of Single Family Homes, NIMBY, and Affordability


For decades, single family neighborhoods have been central to the American Dream. But as affordable homes become harder for families to find, these neighborhoods are increasingly roadblocks to creating greater housing opportunities.


The New York Times recently profiled a case in Berkeley, California, where 90 percent of the homes are single family. Despite Berkeley’s progressive image reputation, housing advocates have met community opposition (“NIMBY” attitudes) to creating denser housing development in single family neighborhoods. A modest proposal to build three smaller, market-rate homes on one lot took two full years and several lawsuits to complete successfully.


As average job wages continue to lag behind rising housing costs, local officials ought to look to these traditional neighborhoods as potential opportunities. With thoughtful planning, solutions like accessory dwelling units and missing-middle density can create opportunities without interfering with the character of single family neighborhoods. Contact Housing Virginia if you want assistance delivering more diverse and affordable housing solutions in your community.

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