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Why Do We Say Yes

We believe housing is a human right . There should be a home affordable for you. There should be a home affordable for anyone.

Low density, car-centric housing policy in Tampa and other places has, for a century, deliberately made housing more expensive, in ways that have harmed out-groups, destroyed our environment , and held back our economy .

These housing policies have been, and continue to be, the most powerful force perpetuating economic and racial segregation in our community . They are harming marginalized groups most acutely, but affect almost all of our neighbors—young to old, poor to middle class and professional class, and renters and homeowners alike.

This is not only a racial or social justice issue —it's also a question of whether city leaders can meet the moment and adopt better policy as we experience this period of historic growth.

This was a choice.

If we choose differently, we believe housing can be abundant, safe, and affordable for everyone , in every neighborhood.

We believe that saying “Yes” to more housing and more funding for housing—especially in places that have the best infrastructure, jobs, healthcare, and ameneties—is the most impactful thing we can do to fix our broken housing policy.

We believe a key part of getting there is organizing more of our neighbors to say “ Yes In My Back Yard ”.

What We're Fixing

Exclusionary Housing Policy

Tampa’s biggest period of growth, when we cemented our urban fabric and approach to city planning, occured in the first half of the 20th century, during a period of profound racism and discrimination. Neighborhood convenants and deed restrictions in established white communities, especially in South Tampa, explicitly prohibited people of color from owning or renting in those neighborhoods.

After the Supreme Court made this illegal, and under a mayor elected by the White Municiple Party of Tampa, the city adopted a strict “euclidian zoning” ordinance which laid the groundwork for preserving the segregated character of these communities. Instead of promoting explicit racial segregation, it adopted a policy of implicit economic segregation, by making housing that could be affordable to working class people and to our communities of colors illegal in those neighborhoods by banning, for example, housing on smaller lots, multi-family housing, and transit-oriented housing.

This, combined with decades of Jim Crow laws, Redlining, and Urban Renewal, has lead to a deeply segregated city, which has never addressed the underlying policies which caused it.

Critically, because these policies work by making housing artificially scarce—because they prohibit or discourage more affordable housing types in most of Tampa—this is no longer only an issue affecting marginalized groups, but is now an issue affecting all people except for the wealthiest, most housing secure people in our community.

We have made it too difficult to build the housing we need.

We believe we can change this.

We believe we can build more diverse types of housing, for more people, in more places by legalizing missing middle housing and reducing political and technical barriers to new housing .

We believe we can increase housing stability by preserving and fuding affordable housing , and protecting renters from discrimination and abuse .

We believe we can fight homelessness in our community by implementing housing-first solutions , including funding and legalizing types of housing which are critical for fighting housing insecurity .

Expensive, Destructive Sprawl

The modern history of Florida, including Tampa & Hillsborough County, is development. We are a new place, developed with new, modern ideas of how cities could be built with modern technology. In Tampa, we started off as a port city, then with the railroad and with industry, we adopted streetcar oriented development and workforce housing around our historic cigar factories in Ybor City and West Tampa. This quickly gave way to the automobile, which has defined our approach to development for at last the last 80 years.

With these rapid technological advances, and with laws that discouraged density, we optimistically built roads and highways that would allow us to spread out. It enabled “white flight”, and lead to the destruction of communities like West Tampa, Central Avenue, and Dobyville by the construction of the Interstate and the Selmon Express. These developments displaced communities to East Tampa and further, where accessing jobs meant owning a car.

While this development model was always inequitable, it has proven to also be unsustainable. Today, household transportation costs are among the highest in the nation, our rural communities, natural spaces, and carbon sinks are quickly disappearing, and our local governments can’t afford to maintain, replace, and expand critical infrastructure like roads, public safety resources, and basic bus service which now costs more than tax revenues bring in.

We believe we can change this.

We believe we can reduce sprawl by eliminating parking mandates , focusing housing development where infrastructure already exists , and building enough housing in the city for everyone who wants to live here.

We believe we can preserve the environment by promoting dense infill development that reduces demand for suburban greenfield development, and by building more evironmentally sustainable, multi-family housing .

We believe we can improve our public finances by promoting development that requires less new infrastructure, and which will increase property values and tax revenues by increasing density in established neighborhoods .

Transportation & Economic Growth Barriers

Because of our historical car-centric development patterns, Tampa & Hillsborough’s neighborhoods are typicaly far from job centers for all categories of workers. This has resulted in our region missing out on critical agglomeration effects that make cities strong economic engines. It’s also resulted in one of the most expensive and dangerous transportation systems in the country. Together, this has doomed us to a shortage of affordable workforce housing near job centers for businesses to tap into, and made our city less attractive to outside investment.

For these reasons, transportation infrastructure has become the highest public investment priority for our business community, but cannot be funded by property taxes under our existing land use patterns. This has lead us to depend on referendums for a regressive sales tax or increased millage rates with limited success.

Moreover, because we have such a backlong on basic infrastructure, we have been unable to invest in revitalizing our local economy and funding affordable workforce housing, nevermind investing in critical business infrastructure and quality of life ameneties that would make Tampa the premier city in the state to live and do business. Our land use policies have held back Tampa’s economy for decades.

We believe we can change this.

We believe we can make housing more affordable by funding affordable housing directly through new growth revenue and by building a city with higher wages and a lower cost of living .

We believe that we can fund transportation by raising revenues even without raising taxes , by promoting transit-oriented development near commercial corridors, and increasing ridership, revenue, and political will for transit within the city.

We believe that we can build our economy by housing our workforce , lowering the barrier to entry for entrepreneurs and small businesses , and leveraging agglomeration effects of density to have a more productive workforce.

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We are a chapter of YIMBY Action, a 501(c)4 non-profit. We can only make these changes by letting our elected officials know this matters.

Volunteers can help us lobby our local elected officials, educate & build coalitions with community partners, endorse and campaign for pro-housing candidates win elections, and more. Our mission is to build political will to solve our housing crisis.

Getting involved is easy! Sign up as a volunteer here