Beya Jimenez on Making Urbanism Antiracist

Going Beyond Labels and Making the Human Case for Housing

Our fourth talk was by Beya Jimenez, who is the Director of Economic Opportunity at the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce and a board member of Abundant Housing Massachusetts. Beya helped organize YIMBYTown 2018 in Dorchester, and she spoke movingly and frankly about bridging the gap between the conference and the larger Dorchester community. Beya also addressed head-on the reputation that Boston has as a racist city, and reflected on what progress she thinks has and hasn’t been made.

Talking about a the inspiration for a recent letter she wrote to the Boston Globe titled “If you support Black Lives Matter, you must back housing for all”, Beya told us:

Beya also made a strong case for putting less emphasis on labels we use to describe our political positions and more emphasis on the stories of housing outcomes for people:

Check out the video for more on Beya’s journey and opinions as a pro-housing advocate, including:

  • Reflections on her early career working on a political campaign in Lawrence, MA (6:40)
  • Her belief that housing is a root cause of many societal ills, as a social determinant of health (10:20)
  • Her thoughts on Boston as a famously racist city, and the relative lack of progress it has made from the era when it first earned that reputation (13:20)
  • How Boston focuses its pride on some communities more than others and sometimes fails to live up to its stated values on housing (17:00)
  • How Beya first was introduced to YIMBYism, and how it originally turned her off and felt like a movement where she didn’t exactly belong (27:40)
  • The story of her involvement in helping plan YIMBYTown 2018, which involved meeting with and listening to folks in the community who felt hurt by the conference plans (29:00)
  • Her advice to Black and Brown people in the pro-housing movement (36:55) and White people in the pro-housing movement (37:55)
  • What she thinks is necessary if you want to really listen to communities of color (40:25)
  • The need for us to stop using housing lingo like “80% AMI” and start merging stories and data to make the human case for housing (49:10)
  • A list of calls-to-action for folks in the pro-housing movement (56:20)
This event was proudly cohosted with Abundant Housing MA

Thanks so much to Gillian Pressman of YIMBY Action and Jacob Oppenheim of Abundant Housing Massachusetts for conducting the interview. Thanks also to Board Member Sasha Aickin for compiling this blog post recap.

If you enjoyed this talk, please consider attending our next talk in the series, catching up on the entire series, or joining YIMBY Action as a member!

Join us for the next in the series: Dr. Andre Perry, author of joins us on Tuesday, August 11th at 5pm PT / 8pm ET. This event is cohosted by YIMBY Action, YIMBY Law, and the East Oakland Black Cultural Zone Collaborative.

Tune in on Tuesday, August 11th



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