Institutionalised Racism via White NIMBYism Creates Housing Disparity

Situation in USA same here


The following beginning of an article on what is effectively institutionalised racism in housing in the USA could be very easily translated to Auckland and New Zealand when it comes to either building affordable or State Housing.

From Vox:

Living in a poor neighborhood changes everything about your life

In 1940, a white developer wanted to build a neighborhood in Detroit.

So he asked the US Federal Housing Administration to back a loan. The FHA, which was created just six years earlier to help middle-class families buy homes, said no because the development was too close to an “inharmonious” racial group.

Meaning black people.

It wasn’t surprising. The housing administration refused to back loans to black people — and even people who lived around black people. FHA said it was too risky.

So the next year, this white developer had an idea: What if he built a 6-foot-tall, half-mile-long wall between the black neighborhood and his planned neighborhood? Is that enough separation to mitigate risk and get his loan?

When he did that, the housing administration backed the loan.

That was 75 years ago, but this type of racist housing policy helped create two divergent Americas

These policies are typically called redlining, in that they drew a bright red line between the areas where black families could and couldn’t get loans.

Redlining poisoned the mortgage market for black people. It meant that black families were systematically forced to live in separate neighborhoods.

We often talk about increasing wealth inequality, with the rich getting richer and poor getting poorer. That’s certainly a problem, but something we should be even more concerned about is what is happening to our neighborhoods. There are now more extremely poor neighborhoods and more extremely rich neighborhoods.

We’re seeing two divergent Americas, one with money, and one without — and the one without is largely black. And the residents of that America are increasingly living in neighborhoods of extreme poverty, where 40 percent of residents live below the poverty line.

These are neighborhoods that struggle with high rates of crime, unemployment, and community health issues.

As it turns out, living in poor neighborhoods isn’t just an inconvenience. It’s a huge factor in what our lives — and our children’s lives — turn out to be.

Research shows it’s like breathing in bad air; the more you’re exposed to it, the more it hurts you. And it isn’t just because of the lack of opportunity. It’s that living in these distressed areas changes your brain — and your kids’ brains.

And that’s what this cartoon is about: why it matters that black Americans have continued to be stuck in the poorest neighborhoods, even decades after the civil rights movement.
Let’s go back 50 years: One in three black children grew up in extreme poverty during the civil rights movement

In the midst of the civil rights movement, between 1955 and 1970, about one in threeblack children grew up in very poor neighborhoods, where more than 30 percent of people were in poverty. Virtually no white children grew up in those very poor areas.

This is from a study by NYU sociologist Patrick Sharkey. Black families were in very difficult neighborhoods during the civil rights movement.

But then Sharkey looked at children who grew up between 1985 and 2000, presumably enough time for the policies from the civil rights movement to take effect.

What he found was astounding.


Full article:


I could literally translate the situation in the United States to here in New Zealand after seeing this from Statistics New Zealand:


And one has to look at the Te Puea Marae situation with the homeless and the Government failing to act in any decent measure to see how institutionalised our racism effectively is with housing.


This earlier on NIMBYism from a Labour person of all people towards a State Housing mixed development that would help Maori and Pacific Island ownership demonstrates that institutionalised racism in housing:

NIMBY’s Deprive Others Of Much Needed Housing

NIMBYism in Mt Albert has correlation to housing shortage in Southern Auckland

What would a Housing New Zealand project in a Special Housing Area in Mt Albert have to do with a shortage if housing needed in South Auckland?

Answer: NIMBY’s!


Yesterday two different articles from two different publications came out illustrating the housing situation in Auckland.

In the Herald piece local Mt Albert residents as well as their Labour-stacked Local Board (who should know better) were complaining about lack of input to designs as well as outright NIMBYism to a Housing New Zealand project in Mt Albert. The project is on a Special Housing Areas which by law grant limited appeal rights in the limited notification processes unlike normal notifications in non-SHA areas.


From the NZ Herald

Mt Albert locals band together to fight state house scheme

Photo / Martin Sykes
Photo and Credit/Attribution / Martin Sykes – NZ Herald

Mt Albert residents have upped the ante in their opposition to Housing New Zealand’s plans for a Special Housing Area in their suburb.

The state agency wants to redevelop the 34-unit lot at 33 Asquith Ave, which runs parallel with New North Rd near Mt Albert Grammar School and where a small group of run-down places will be replaced by a much larger residential scheme.

But worried residents have formed the Asquith Community Group in a bid to get Housing NZ to engage with them in planning a development which doesn’t make their lives difficult.

Their website,, aims to rally more support and pressure Housing NZ to discuss the plans, but the state agency says its scheme will be high quality, designed by award-winning Cheshire Architects and is still being developed.

But the new website lists many concerns, including the group’s desire to be involved with the planning and concept ideas for the site.

Albert-Eden Local Board chairman Peter Haynes praised the group and also expressed concerns about plans.

“I think that the neighbours’ list is a splendid example of what the community can come up with when given the opportunity. The concerns raised by the neighbours are very close to those that the board has discussed and raised with council officers,” he said.

Residents listed alarm about the number of units being planned, that they could be out of character with the existing neighbourhood, the need to preserve an existing corner park which has mature trees and retain a path through that park, provision of adequate off-street carparking, the bulk and location of new units and what would happen to a stacked stone boundary wall.


Source and full article:


Now the neighbours and the Local Board wanting to participate in the design process (providing we are not going to micro-manage as well as death by committee) I certainly do not mind. The participation would certainly knock on the head NIMBYism Class One and Two (will link the post describing that below).

But when we see people start referring to: that they could be out of character with the existing neighbourhood then we get what I call Class Three NIMBYism and something I have very little time for. There is no such thing as “out of character” unless Housing New Zealand (in this case) were going to build a six storey brutalist designed concrete block on their development site. Neighbourhoods are not snowglobes parked in a museum for all eternity. They like the City are a constant evolving organism and new developments that are often adapting to the changing environment to their predecessors before them.

So those claiming out of character in a new development does not wash with me at all.


And so while Middle Class Mt Albert and their Local Board are whinging about a Housing NZ development in their area (you will see why my language is rather sour) we have this situation owing to a lack of housing via Housing New Zealand in South Auckland:


People in genuine need of housing from Housing NZ but can’t get it because of the shortage of stock. What makes that shortage even worse is when Housing NZ try to build to expand their stock the middle class who own their own homes stop them through class 3 NIMBYism.

That situation greatly annoys me when we have people in plight but there are those who simply do not care. Otherwise I would not see such objection unless it was truly out of character such as I mentioned above. To the residents of Mt Albert as well as the Labour-stacked Local Board in Mt Albert I say shame on you while we have people in dire need of State housing yet Housing NZ can not expand due to middle class NIMBYism.

Note: I am aware of Central Government policy around State Housing. In this instance it does not bear resemblance into this debate. However, in the wider debate Central Government does need to do more to make sure emergency housing and state housing is there for those in true need. That said and coming back to this debate even if the Government via Housing NZ were to embark on a large scale State housing program in Auckland I would say it will still run into Class 3 NIMBYism from the Middle Class property owners.


As for the three classes of NIMBYism they are:


A Theory Behind our Resident NIMBY’s

NIMBY’s, love them or detest them they are always going to be there when it comes to Planning. Our most classic example is watching them come out of the woodwork every time the Unitary Plan is in the spot light. That said you can usually class NIMBY’s into three broad but semi-fluid categories:

1) Those with legitimate concerns

Once case would be a factory that has obnoxious emissions being set up close to an established residential area. Or (and usually the case) a badly designed and out-of-place mid rise apartment block (so 4-8 storeys) in an established residential area whether it already has mid rise blocks or a low density zone just up scaled. A close example of that was the Milford development recently approved by the Environment Court. Long story short it was eventually concluded that what was originally proposed was deemed out-of-place due to its height. After some compromises the heights were lowered and the development can now go ahead. Looking at the compromise the development is now back in character as the area will evolve with more mid rise developments over time.

When faced with NIMBY’s from legitimate concerns the situation can be often easily solved with all parties entering dialogue and not being stand-offish against each other. Often and sadly this means a date with the Environment Court to get that compromise. Milford went through this and most recently the Orakei Point development. That said there was also the case of NIMBYism for the sake of NIMBYism (see number 3) fouling the process as well which is certainly no help. Remove these kind of NIMBY’s out and 99% of the time you will get a compromise that is decent for all parties – in the end.


2) Surprised or Spooked

This happens all too often when people go NIMBY owing to either lack of information or lack dialogue (if you have fully notified consents). Auckland Council are no angels for surprising and spooking people with planning decisions and it happens all to often. It is a natural instinct to go into full defensive mode when dropped into a situation with no information at hand. Humans like other animals fear what they do not understand as we do not know what the effects will be up-on them. I have always said even if it is controversial be up front with all the facts straight away. Do not tell half-truths under any circumstances. People will nearly always (even if they are in opposition (or will be)) they are appreciative of the fact that the consenting authority was up front straight away with all the facts at hand. And that appreciation can extend and lead back to NIMBY cause number 1 and compromises fleshed out. In my observations 9/10 NIMBY issues with planning in Auckland comes from this situation – the people being surprised and spooked. A situation that can be easily avoided.


3) NIMBYism for the sake of NIMBYism

The Planetizen article outlines this kind of NIMBYism. People objecting for no real good reason because often “they hate change” (as one person said once at a St Heliers meeting during the initial Unitary Plan feedback rounds). These kind of people are your noisiest and will literally spam the heck out of the Main Stream and Social Media outlets. They as well as tie up Council Committees and all too often the Environment Court which grinds the processes down and waste people’s time and money.  In my observations you can not reason with them so do not bother. You can usually debunk them with solid actual facts – you just need to get through all the noise they generate first. I can think of five particular people in Auckland that would fall in this category – ironically four of them are elected representatives in Auckland…

This extract from Planetizen sums up point three rather aptly – albeit from an American experience…….


Full article and links:



To stabilise the housing situation the Government indeed should build 100,000 State houses (whether detached dwellings or apartments) through out New Zealand so that those who do not have a home have the chance of either renting one or in a rent-to-buy scheme to own their own home.

Apart from hard National Party ideologues no one loses in the mass housing build not even developers who would partner up at the chance of a guaranteed work stream for at least the next seven years. State housing pepper potted right through out Auckland would allow for integration through the community and of course would blend in with character (while still allowing areas to evolve naturally).


In the end housing is one of the four main economic rights we have (the others being food and water, shelter, transport and employment). To deny any of these economic rights as I see it is criminal and negligent of the State. We as a society can do a heck of a lot more to break down this institutionalised racism against housing – one of the four economic rights!


%d bloggers like this: