YIMBYISM and the Housing Crisis in Canada and the United States: A Critical Reflection


In this introductory essay, we provide an overview and theoretical context for this Intervention of seven critical reflections on the recent ‘pro-housing’ movement YIMBYism (‘Yes in My Backyard’). In cities across the United States and Canada, YIMBYism has become important in local debates about housing and land use; some key North American urban centers are the focus of the commentaries included here. On the whole, academic discussions of YIMBYism have remained focused on local and place-specific narratives. In this introduction we discuss the essays in this Intervention and resituate the discussion towards a more macro-level urban theoretical framework, specifically examining the ongoing restructuring of urban neoliberalism, racial capitalism and hyper-urbanization. We argue that YIMBYism reflects unresolved tensions in the current urban housing crisis that can be seen as connected to the ongoing dismantling of the remnants of Keynesianism and the intensification of neoliberalism and uneven urban development. We note that these shifts relate to how racism and patriarchy suffuse changing regimes of capitalist orders, especially in housing markets and residential geographies. The Intervention as a whole suggests that the YIMBY movement deserves more research attention as a force in the ongoing unfolding of neoliberal urbanism.