Monday, August 14, 2006

Talk About My Neighborhood? Use "AIMBY," Not "NIMBY"

A nameless, faceless commenter in a previous post accused me of NIMBY for arguing that halfway houses should be spread out across the Metro area rather than concentrated only in urban areas. It is my contention that if I were NIMBY, I would not accept any social services in my neighborhood at all, when in fact I already do accept them. Within a half-a-mile radius of my house there are two halfway houses that I know of. One of them houses or housed at one time two convicted sex offenders. Right around the corner is Cheatham Place Public Housing, as is the Union Rescue Mission's Women's Home. Nearly next door is the Metropolitan Action Commission, which provides assistance for needy people.

So, get to know me better. I am not NIMBY; I am "AIMBY." Salemtown is saturated with services for people in crisis and for transitional populations. Hence, the services are "Already In My Back Yard." They are already a part of my landscape. I am not saying they shouldn't be. I am saying that they should also be a part of the suburban landscape, too. But they are not. And I am sure that there are other north-by-northwest neighborhoods that bear even more weight than we do for hosting the rehabilitation of fellow Nashvillians. Suburbanites generally refuse to brook even drug addiction halfway houses. Yet, if you really want to "mainstream" addicts, the suburbs are exactly the deepest channels where the mainstream flows. So, why can't they accept some of the burden, too?

Why can't they? Because they are much more NIMBY than anyone in the city who lives by modest means. So, get it right: guys like me are AIMBY, and there is no contradiction in living with social and rehabilitative services and demanding that others be placed in communities who refuse to bear any of the burden. Those outliers who take advantage of an urban community's good nature by expecting them to assume even more social responsibility than their density dictates--based primarily on property values, no less!--while accepting little or none themselves are about as NIMBY as NIMBY gets.


  1. If the halfway houses / rehab facilities were located in an affluent neighborhood, then people would be up in arms (as the City Paper rightly suggests in their editorial) that we were coddling the residents, or some people would be complaining we were locating services too far away from those that need them. Inevitably, people complain.

    This isnt a religious issue, or a partisan issue, it is just plain common sense to use the money where it will go furthest, in an area that has access to public transportation.

  2. I've worked in a treatment center for more than 10 years and have some experience dealing with this issue, so let me offer a few opinions.

    These facilities need to be close to the bus routes since most of the residents dont own cars or have any other means of transportation. Yes the buses do run to outlying areas but the best coverage by MTA is in the downtown area. And the sprawl of suburbia only heightens the problem since once the bus route ends, the distances left to walk are greater.

    The facilities also need to be near service and general labor jobs. Most of the residents are going to be working or seeking employment in those fields. Those jobs do exist in the burbs, but the employers are, in my opinion, less accepting and less likely to hire people from the houses.

    I've only worked at one facility so I can't speak to other facilities but crime was not an issue at our house. We did our best to be good neighbors. Most of what we encountered from neighbors was 'anticipatory fear' based on assumptions and not on fact, and most of the neighbors were accepting once they got to know us and see how we operated.