NIMBY’s, Listen Up – Get on Board to End Homelessness

homeless man sleeping outside

This Is the Simple Solution If You Don’t Want to Be Inconvenienced by the Sight of Homeless People

Does the sight of a person sleeping outside send you into an uncontrollable rage?

Would you rather miss work three weeks in a row than let your zoning commission permit the construction of a new shelter anywhere near your house, job or children’s school?

Do you have a collection of picket signs with slogans like “There goes the neighborhood” and “We should never build anything new that doesn’t directly benefit ME” ready at a moment’s notice for use at a town hall meeting?

If so, you may be a NIMBY.

Now, I’m not going to try to change you. Clearly your beliefs are deeply entrenched. I mean extremely well-thought-out. But here’s something you may not have considered:

If you don’t want to see another homeless shelter built in your community, want to keep parks free and clear for your 20 minute jogs with your dog, Buttercup, and never have to have an uncomfortable conversation with your child after they ask a question about why that person is sleeping outside – the best way to achieve all this is to end homelessness.

It’s so simple.

If we could just give everyone a home, they wouldn’t be homeless anymore and inconveniencing you!

It Could Never Work… Could It?


Think about it. Why are all these tents suddenly popping up sort of near your house or car? Has everyone just gotten really into camping? No! They just have nowhere else to go!

If we could give them somewhere else to spend the night that’s better than a tent pitched slightly within the passenger door opening range of your Buick, everyone would clear out of here.

It’s just crazy enough to work.

But Where Would They Go?

Now, this is the part that might set your NIMBY blood boiling, but don’t reach for the picket signs just yet.

We will have to build.

The good news is that if we take the time to build housing that’s actually suitable for human habitation, it won’t be an eyesore at all. We will actually add to the unique fabric of the neighborhood.

I know that standing idly by while improvements to your community are built goes against every NIMBY bone in your body. But just think of what you’ll gain!

You won’t be forced to post pictures of the people you see sleeping on the streets on your commute to work, saving tons of time when you could be paying attention to that podcast you weren’t really listening to! You’ll also be able to look in whatever direction you want while you’re out shopping, without ever having to fervently pretend that you don’t see the person panhandling just outside of your direct line of vision!

It’s Cheaper!

If you’re still not convinced, let’s get to the bottom line, literally. Providing housing for people who don’t have it is cheaper than letting them remain unhoused. In fact, a recent analysis from researchers in Central Florida showed that each unhoused person cost community members a whopping $31,000 per year. And what quality of life does that money buy? Not much.

In contrast, it would cost only $10,000 per person to provide permanent housing to each unhoused person, along with a case manager to smooth their transition.

But wait! How does simply ignoring the problem cost money? It should be free, shouldn’t it?

Well, no. And the rise in laws that criminalize homelessness is only making it more expensive.

There are a number of costs associated with continued homelessness that usually don’t attract the same shrewd fiscal eye that building shelters or providing useful services inevitably does.

For one thing, police presence isn’t free. And over-policing the homeless population in particular can get pretty pricey. Every time someone is arrested off the street and hauled off to jail (largely for offenses like trespassing or sleeping in parks), taxpayers are footing the bill.

The biggest contributing cost of continued homelessness, however, is medical care. Living on the streets isn’t good for one’s health. Add in the extra susceptibility to violent crimes and the fact that many chronically homeless people require additional medical care due to physical disabilities or mental illnesses, it’s no wonder people experiencing homeless need more medical care on average.

If these people were put up in safe, permanent housing, they would be happier, healthier, and incur fewer medical expenses.

Oh, and they would never “spoil the view” out of another NIMBY’s window again. So I guess it’s a win-win.

The Way Forward Is Clear

NIMBY or not, there’s only one way to go from here. Whether you’ve come to this conclusion out of empathy and respect for your fellow members of the human race or out of a desire to get to the Jamba Juice without seeing anyone “aggressively” sitting on a sidewalk, the path ahead is clear.

We need to end homelessness by providing affordable housing for all who need it. Only then can we all live in peace – regardless of what your definition of “peace” is.

YIMBY’s and NIMBY’s working together toward a common goal. With our powers combined, nothing can stand in our way. Not even homelessness.

Image by Quinn Kampschroer from Pixabay

Kayla Robbins

Kayla Robbins


Kayla Robbins is a freelance writer who works with big-hearted brands and businesses. When she's not working, she enjoys knitting socks, rolling d20s, and binging episodes of The Great British Bake Off.

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