Youth & Housing: A Global Crisis IMBY?

Shelter is one of our most basic needs, and yet for many young people across the world – particularly in wealthy cities like London, Vancouver, Hong Kong, Dublin and San Francisco - it is becoming increasingly difficult to secure.


One of the hidden consequences of the housing crisis is the impact it has on the cultural/creative class who are increasingly being priced out of the cities they once lent their vibrancy to.

"I'm a freelance writer, who also runs a relatively successful writers' night in town – we get a large crowd, lots of people who work in the likes of Google and Facebook looking for their culture hit – but increasingly I'm finding, I just can't afford to live here anymore. The people I'm 'entertaining' are pushing the rents up – and they're effectively pushing me out of my city. The way it is – I'll either have to move away or quit my creative ambitions and get a more secure job in one of the tech companies." - Dylan, 27, The Love Network

The housing crisis runs the risk of turning cities into a cultural desert as young creatives are priced out and forced to move away – either to cheaper cities, or abroad. The creative drain is occurring in London, San Francisco, and New York – as the creative classes who injected an urban space with life and vibrancy are pushed to the periphery.

City councils are forgetting that culture is what colours a city, and if they are to save their cities they must fix the housing crisis.


Fortunately, young people are responding to the housing crisis, demonstrating clearly the behaviours of the Era of Self-Salvation, recognising that an older generation aren't overly interested in helping and taking the issue into their own hands to find a solution.

Responding to NIMBYism (Not In My Backyard) – a term for homeowners who reject development in their area – The YIMBY movement (Yes In My Backyard) was founded. Having started in San Francisco – the movement now has chapters set up across the US and Europe.

The young YIMBYs recognised that the housing crisis could only be fixed by building more homes. Allying themselves with housing developers, young people are literally building their own solution to the housing crisis.

"Housing works much like any product – when it's in short supply, it commands a higher price. Homeowners are happy to see their homes appreciate in price, and they do that by blocking the development of more housing. They're cutting off supply. What I want is to open the supply chain back up – and that's why I want more housing to be built. We need more houses – simple as that." - Amy, 25, The Love Network

The YIMBY Party co-founder, Sonja Trauss (35) is now running for election to the San Franciscan Board of Supervisors, which, if elected, would put her in a place to directly tackle one of the world's most notorious housing crises. Two-bed apartments in San Francisco claim an average rent of $4500 p/m.

Elsewhere, young people passionate about staying in their local area are protesting the growth of rental giant AirBnB – whose short-terms lets are replacing affordable accommodation in cities. Pitting tourists against young people, AirBnB has attracted the collective anger of young people looking for a home. In response, 10 cities and countries have placed stricter regulations on AirBnB lettings. In Amsterdam, hosts will only be able to let their home on the site for a maximum of 30 days a year, whilst hosts in Barcelona will need to pay a tax on earnings and apply for a license.

Young people are recognising their collective power, and organising to resolve an issue that directly affects them, their security, and threatens the vibrancy of their home cities.