Yes – Please! – In My Back Yard

I am thrilled and inspired about the opening of the New Hope apartment complex a few blocks away from my home in Flossmoor, IL.

It’s a newly built facility with six apartments for special needs adults, approved unanimously by the village board in 2016 and encouraged by their immediate neighbors who include some personal friends.  While there were a few initial NIMBY (Not in My Back Yard) whisperings, the overwhelming attitude in our community was actually Yes Please – in Our Back Yard.

New Hope Apartments offer a much-needed housing option for all our communities, although it’s currently the only one in Illinois.

It’s conveniently located near the train station, the public library, and our little village center (shops and restaurants) where residents can navigate their lives conveniently and in a good and safe neighborhood.  Why wouldn’t everybody want this in their community?

This article by Emily Badger from January 2018 spells out the history of NIMBY sentiments and the notion that owning a home = having the right “to shape the world beyond its boundaries.”  Some home owners are concerned that their own properties will lose value.  Others simply want to control who their neighbors are.  The origins of these sentiments begin – not surprisingly – with race.

White people have historically left neighborhoods when Black or Brown people moved in and this continues today in many urban and suburban neighborhoods.  As a White person, I would love to hear from other White home owners the honest reasons behind this.  What do “Black Neighbors” and “Brown Neighbors” mean to you?  (I know the answer, but I’d like you to say it out loud.)

The truth is that diverse neighborhoods are rich neighborhoods.  Do I really need to say that every Black or Brown neighbor is not – by definition – uneducated, unlawful, or unneighborly?

It’s also true that many urban and most suburban neighborhoods in our country are racially segregated.

And it’s thirdly true that all of us want to live in safe neighborhoods.  All of us.  We all want convenience and good schools.  We all want community.  And – if we profess to be followers of Jesus – we all want everyone to have the abundant life Jesus promises, right?  This is what true evangelism means.

For today, I am evangelically grateful that the good people of my state, county, and village all agreed that special needs adults are a blessing in our back yard.

Images of (top) the New Hope apartments and (bottom) some of the memes shared after Marco Gutierrez’ statement on September 1, 2016.


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