Studies have shown that the construction of 100 units of multifamily housing generates an average of 161 jobs and $11.7 million into the local economy in the first year.

Alexander Roithmayr; HGAR Director of Government Affairs

The housing crisis and the lack of inventory continue to be an issue. Both local and state governments seem unable to handle this issue as there has been a high level of indecision and stagnation in our community growth. This is bad on a few levels. This is bad for our bottom lines as there is a limitation on housing inventory. This is bad for our communities as there is a limit to having citizen age in place and welcoming new individuals and families. There are also massive economic and ethical issues that the housing crisis causes. Really, the only good news is that our needs as an industry are linked with the needs of the community on those ethical and economic levels. So, what do we do?

First off, we cannot wait for the government or NAR to solve this issue—we need to focus our efforts on where the issue is. All housing is local, and as local housing experts, it will come down to a new level of activism from all of us. I say activism, but what I really mean is networking. Networking with our elected officials like our state representatives, our area mayors and our zoning boards.

Zoning and Planning boards are volunteer committees that every municipality has. Zoning and planning board meetings are where most new developments and multi-family housing go to die. These land use board meetings are namely attended by “concerned neighbors” of almost any new development called NIMBYs. This small but vocal group delays new housing projects until sometimes the developer walks away. As Realtors, housing professionals and members of the community, it is our responsibility, and ultimately a good use of our time, to combat this narrative that new housing is bad.

The fact of the matter is that new housing is a net gain for communities as a whole, their local downtowns and their school districts. Studies have shown that the construction of 100 units of multifamily housing generates an average of 161 jobs and $11.7 million into the local economy in the first year. On average, these 100 units also support 44 new jobs and generate $2.6 million each year once the project is complete.

Additionally, new housing, particularly multifamily housing, is good for local school districts. This common nomenclature from the NIMBY contingent is false. A recent study in Westchester County found that recent housing development did not have a major impact on school enrollment. In fact, the projects generated a net-positive financial benefit in the form of school taxes, even after taking into account the cost of educating the enrolled school children living in those new units.

This data is shocking to some people, especially since the school enrollment data is a favorite talking point against new housing developments. Land use boards and the mayors of our local towns do not have this knowledge. It is one thing for me to promote this information, as I will always be seen as a housing advocate connected with a pro-housing organization, but it is another thing entirely and would be much more effective if it came from a member of the community. A YIMBY vs a NIMBY.

When there is a public discussion around housing, whether it’s at a zoning board hearing or a local politician’s fundraiser, we need Realtors to speak in favor of these projects. Realtors are natural networkers and salespeople. We need to tap into these skills for civic use. I hope this does not come off as too glib, but in the same way, as we talk about granite countertops and natural lighting, we need to talk about pro-housing data and zoning reform.

Many resources can help facilitate this networking. Organizations like Welcome Home Westchester and local papers like The Examiner, often report on new developments that are being discussed on a local level. As your Government Affairs Director, I can make introductions to your local officials and let you know when political fundraisers take place as well as provide the talking points for the studies I previously referenced. Our communities and livelihoods require our members to advocate and network for a more equitable community that builds more housing.

Alexander Roithmayr

Alexander Roithmayr is Director of Government Affairs for the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors.

View articles

Great! You’ve successfully signed up.

Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.

You've successfully subscribed to Real Estate In-Depth.

Success! Check your email for magic link to sign-in.

Success! Your billing info has been updated.

Your billing was not updated.