America’s cities, suburbs, and towns are experiencing a crushing housing shortage. Welcoming Neighbors Network empowers local advocates to fix it. Because every community needs welcoming neighbors.
The United States lacks millions of homes we need to house our people. Exclusionary zoning, NIMBYism, price gouging, and absurd red tape block everyday Americans from accessing reasonably priced homes near jobs and amenities.
From megacities to idylllic rural towns, America’s housing shortage is driving displacement and sprawl, and holding back economic growth.
Welcoming Neighbors Network believes that most policymakers know that abundant home options can ease housing costs but too many are scared to act, because they overestimate the power of NIMBYism in their community. The strong majority of Americans who want more housing options need to be heard.
Welcoming Neighbors Network members help policymakers understand that everyday Americans in their communities want abundant housing options.
To do this, our members
- Organize the welcoming neighbors in our communities to speak up and be heard,
- Advocate to legalize and encourage homes of all shapes and sizes, for people from all walks of life,
- Build alliances with impacted communities, affordable housing practitioners, and local subject matter experts to advance a suite of complementary housing and land use policies, and
- Pursue policy change at the municipal, regional, and state level, to move away from parcel-by-parcel fights and toward fair rules that promote abundant housing options in every neighborhood.
Our members formed a network of pro-housing organizations and advocates to share and learn from one another, adopt and adapt pro-housing campaign best-practices in new places, and leverage national relationships to help strengthen local groups.
Welcoming Neighbors Network members have a track record of winning ambitious pro-housing policy at the municipal, regional, and state level.
Our network includes statewide organizations and local groups, staffed operations and all-volunteer outfits, longstanding institutions and new startups. We unite around a commitment to disciplined pro-housing advocacy that builds alliances, lifts up impacted voices, and embraces tangible impacts over one-size-fits-all theory.
The Welcoming Neighbors Network is a confederation of independent, place-based organizations advancing pro-housing policies through strategic, alliance-building campaigns.
We believe that healthy housing markets offer an abundance of homes of all shapes and sizes, for people from all walks of life. Families and individuals deserve to live with dignity in homes they can afford, which will inevitably take many different forms, each and every one of which should be legal to build and inhabit.
Why America needs abundant housing
Bad housing policy is an underrated cause of what ails America. The housing shortage produces outrageous home prices and puts Americans of all stripes at risk of displacement. What scant new housing gets built is often exurban sprawl, sacrificing precious farmland and open spaces, and isolating Americans from one another. When Americans cannot afford to live where they want, economies suffer, families struggle, the environment degrades, and social fabric frays.
We see these impacts where policymakers have failed to act, from San Francisco to New York City to Miami. Shortage-driven prices are already spiking in a new wave of cities, with over 20% year-over-year housing inflation seen in cities and towns from Missoula, MT to Mesa, AZ to Manchester, NH.
Too little housing, too far from jobs
Over the last 50 years, America’s housing stock has failed to keep pace with our population. In the mid 20th century, a rash of exclusionary zoning laws banned lower-cost homes and walled off huge swaths of America’s cities and towns from less affluent people. Within several decades, the vast majority of residential land was closed to everything but the most expensive form of housing – the single-detached house on a large lot.
Under these exclusionary zoning laws, new homes dried up, forcing a growing population to fight over an ever-smaller share of housing. This drove bidding wars, outrageous prices, and displaced families.
These already-troubling trends reached crisis level during the Great Recession, when new home construction fell off a cliff. The resulting housing deficit was never filled, creating a persistent homes shortage that continues to drive prices to record levels.
The solution to a crisis of scarcity is a policy of abundance. Americans cannot afford to keep fighting over ever-smaller pieces of the pie. Policymakers must seek fair and square abundance – where the pie gets bigger and there are healthy portions for everyone at the table. That means homes of all shapes and sizes, for all of our neighbors, in all types of neighborhoods.
When states and cities enact zoning and other policy changes that allow housing options to keep pace with housing needs, it creates ripples that extend across society as a whole:
- Adequate housing choices that allow workers to follow jobs would expand economic growth and increase wages by nearly 10%.
- Building adequate new housing has been shown to decrease displacement in at-risk communities.
- Social trust – the bedrock of healthy democracies – grows with housing choices, as different types of people become interconnected neighbors.
- When large and mid-sized cities and suburbs allow more housing options, it saves farmland and keeps food prices low.
- Communities with more housing options see reduced social isolation – a key driver of polarization and extremism – and myriad other public health risks.
- More housing options lead to shorter commutes, which improves outcomes for children.
Why abundant housing needs strategic, alliance-building campaigns
Welcoming Neighbors Network believes that many, if not most policymakers recognize abundant housing as a vital response to America’s housing shortage. But too often, policymakers are unwilling to act because they fear backlash from the NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) activists in their constituency.
But NIMBYism is often a paper tiger. NIMBYs scare policymakers because for decades they were the loudest and often only citizens to engage in housing and land use decisions. This created the false impression that “the community” does not want new housing options.
In reality, anti-housing NIMBYs represent only a small (albeit vocal) minority of many jurisdictions. Pro-housing advocates can usually match or even overwhelm them through disciplined organizing and strategic alliance building.
From Charlotte to Minneapolis to Portland (to name just a few examples), we have seen pro-housing advocates win by building vibrantly multifaceted coalitions and mobilizing legions of community-members to take action for abundant housing reforms, effectively out-hustling and out-politicking the NIMBYs. When the same few dozen anti-housing activists meet a broad, organized pro-homes coalition, the politics around housing and land use can shift dramatically.
Why we built a national network
Crushing housing shortages and waves of displacement have metastasized from a few coastal megacities to nearly every corner of the country. What happens in Oakland matters in Omaha, and vice versa. An interconnected housing shortage demands an interconnected network of abundant housing advocates.
Over a decade of organizing and advocating from Boston to Minneapolis to Charlotte to Portland to Sacramento, the Welcoming Neighbors Network’s founding members hammered out a model for successful pro-housing campaigns for a variety of political contexts.
Having finally achieved some success in tackling our local housing shortages, we have watched in horror as the shortage crisis spread across the country. We formed the Welcoming Neighbors Network to share and adapt our model to help every community respond to their local shortages and ensure America’s local pro-housing leaders keep growing, learning from one another, and winning abundant housing victories across the country.
Pro-housing organizations building capacity together
Our network’s strength springs from our members’ expertise at running and winning pro-housing campaigns. Lessons learned in one corner of the country can be quickly shared with sister organizations from coast to coast, helping replicate successes, avoid mistakes, and tackle challenges creatively. Welcoming Neighbors Network enables our members to collaborate, learn from one another, and collectively solve problems through:
- Work groups for problem-solving and ideation
- Peer-to-peer coaching
- Collaborative digital platforms
- Directories of pro-housing leaders and experts
- Trainings and convenings, both remote and in-person
- Spaces to share, celebrate, debrief, interrogate, and memorialize victories and challenges
Because our members’ first priority is and ought to be their local work, Welcoming Neighbors Network also maintains a small national team to ensure that our members have ongoing, predictable access to the lessons of the network and responsive support and coaching to adapt those lessons in their community, including:
- A resource library of guides, case studies, templates, and examples for building organizations and running campaigns
- A staffed “hotline” for time-sensitive problem-solving, staff support, and campaign strategy
- Training and coaching on both a regular and ad hoc basis
Adopting & adapting a proven model in new communities
Welcoming Neighbors Network members are ending the NIMBY stranglehold on housing and land use policy and charting a better path for communities across the country. In midwestern cities like Minneapolis, southern cities like Charlotte, northeastern cities like Cambridge, and cities across the west coast, plus state legislatures from California to Connecticut, Welcoming Neighbors Network members built winning coalitions and passed transformative policy – creating a replicable playbook in the process.
WNN shares that proven playbook with local leaders in the next wave of cities and states facing housing shortages and helps up-and-coming advocates to enact bold pro-housing policies on an accelerated timeline through resources, national reach, and hands-on support.
We jointly craft action plans with local leaders, support execution of the plans, and provide ongoing consultation and partnership during execution. Additionally, we parlay national relationships into on-the-ground power, whether through targeted funding (a majority of WNN’s budget directly funds work on the ground) or recruiting other national networks to join on-the-ground abundant housing campaigns.
The Welcoming Neighbors Network is very literally nothing without our members. As the advocates on the ground, WNN members are wholly responsible for the pro-housing wins we have seen across our confederation. Together, our members support one another, learn from each other, and build an ever-stronger network together.
Welcoming Neighbors Network members vary in many ways but are united by a few things:
- We do advocacy & organizing in support of abundant housing policy solutions, primarily through local or state action
- We are locally managed & functionally independent
- Our theory of change includes:
- Organizing to build a base of pro-housing individuals
- Growing an inclusive and strategic alliance of institutional supporters
- Maintaining positive, collaborative working relationships with key constituencies, such as tenants, affordable housing providers, low-income communities, communities of color, and small businesses.
- Following organizing, advocacy, and messaging best practices
Network Member Map
Our network is currently home to 32 organizations across 20 states – winning in red, blue, and purple states alike.
Become a member of Welcoming Neighbors Network
Welcoming Neighbors Network is open and eager to support independent, pro-housing groups at the local, regional, and state levels in every corner of the country. If you are part of an organization that does pro-housing advocacy (or interested in starting such an organization) and want to learn and share with peer organizations across America, we would love to hear from you.
If you aren’t sure about our membership qualification or you simply have questions about being part of the network, please contact us. When in doubt, reach out.
Because Welcoming Neighbors Network recognizes the urgency of pro-housing advocacy around the country, we can start supporting your work while you are in the process of exploring membership.
For information on how to apply for membership and gain preliminary access to WNN resource materials, please email email@example.com.
Give to Welcoming Neighbors Network
Welcoming Neighbors Network is funded by generous individuals, foundations, and organizations who support abundant housing and want to see American cities and towns grow and thrive without creating housing shortages and displacement crises.
If you are interested in joining that cadre of strategic and much-beloved resource partners, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.