Roaring Fork ‘YIMBYs’ wanted |

Roaring Fork ‘YIMBYs’ wanted

John Colson
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

People come up with different styles of leadership, and a group of budding local leaders is hoping to spark a movement to support affordable housing projects.

A Roaring Fork Leadership “civic” group is spearheading a campaign and website that it hopes will raise awareness about what they see as a need for more affordable housing valleywide, and introduce the public to some of the families now living in employee housing.

Rallying around a nationally symbolic word ” YIMBY ” the group plans to distribute green bumper stickers up and down the Roaring Fork Valley emblazoned with the acronym, which stands for “Yes In My Backyard.”

The word is a play on another word, NIMBY, which means “Not In My Backyard,” and which generally is viewed as representing people who oppose such things as affordable housing projects near their own homes. According to Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, “informal YIMBY coalitions exist in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Stockholm and elsewhere to provide community support for affordable housing or market-rate property development” that has run into opposition.

“In highlighting the successes of affordable housing, we hope to diffuse myths that affordable housing projects are havens for crime, and unkempt blights on a community,” said Micaela Folsum, executive director of United Way of Garfield County and a member of Roaring Fork Leadership.

“We want to give people who support affordable housing a voice,” Folsum said, adding, “we’re not trying to make NIMBYs bad guys.” She said she understands that there are cases where opponents to affordable housing projects have legitimate concerns and are not merely acting out of selfishness or snobishness.

To pay for the costs of the campaign, she said, the group has raised $1,800, which will take care of the bumper stickers and a few advertisements. If more money is needed, more will be raised, she said, but the campaign will end when the “civic group” class ends in June.

The Roaring Fork Valley YIMBY website ( offers valleywide housing information, including data from recent housing studies, news articles and links to area affordable housing efforts, plus a button that displays what the site’s originators termed as “five myths” about affordable housing.

The “myths” include ideas such as “affordable housing is ugly … produces more traffic … increases crime … overburdens schools and infrastructure … [and] lowers property values.”

The site also features people who currently live in affordable housing, as well as what that housing looks like.

“These are families of ‘worker bees’ in the community that we would welcome in our backyards,” said Pat Bingham, Pitkin County community relations coordinator and a member of the leadership group.

The YIMBY campaign, its creators said, coincides with a series of videotaped profiles of affordable housing residents produced by the Aspen/Pitkin County Housing Authority, which are being run on the government cable television channel.

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