The Participation Blog

Engaging the Privileged

I recently started working with a municipality confronting the growing homeowner opposition to multifamily housing adjacent to or within established neighborhoods. I’m sure you know that home prices and rents are going through the roof (pun intended) – as is demand, especially for multifamily and more affordable housing. Cities, builders, and developers are all working and willing to meet the demand, but the pushback from existing homeowners who see nothing but threats to their property values and lifestyles from “those others” has created an impasse. Public engagement in these cases tends to favor those privileged existing homeowners who show up in droves to protect their turf unless developers propose something that they’re convinced will increase their own home’s worth. So those who need housing are left with nowhere to go. There are no easy answers to the question of whose privilege trumps whose?