I've been woken up recently by the sounds of builders and bulldozers - instead of the usual birdsong from the surrounding bush.

A new housing development is in full swing on my Auckland street and construction workers (and their compactors) are early starters.

Not that I'm complaining - I've had plenty of time to get used to the idea after Housing New Zealand moved four bungalows to create a large, combined lot.

There was, however, some trepidation among my neighbours over exactly what was in the works.


How many properties would be crammed on to the site? Would they be multi-storey units? How long would construction stretch on for?

Those are all reasonable questions - as is some of my neighbours' unease.

An initial plan to remove two 1960s houses and replace them with seven appears to have grown in scope.

But personally, I'm relieved.

Here we seem to have a government department responding to a critical shortage of social housing through more efficient use of one of this city's most scarce resources - land.

That's because I'm a Yimby.

And I'm not alone.

The mainly-millennial Yimby (short for "yes in my backyard") movement is getting traction round the world as younger people priced out of overheated housing markets push for change.


The "yes in my backyard" bit refers to those who want more intensification in places where houses on quarter-acre sections have long held sway.

As well as beating the drum on housing supply and affordability, this movement also cropped up to respond to the attitudes of Nimbys - a pejorative term for those who could well support the idea of housing density, just as long as it's not in their local area.

The Nimbys were out in full force in Auckland this week. Neighbours of a Henderson housing project compared them to prison cells or working men's huts.

"These buildings are disgustingly cheap, small, lacking in windows and appear to have only one door. The foundations are low-cost and very simple," one neighbour said of the 28sq m structures.

That didn't marry up with Housing NZ's depiction, which said the emergency units - designed for single people to live in on a short-term basis - would be functional, warm, dry, fully carpeted and insulated with double glazing.

While they may not be ideal accommodation, the units sound vastly better than people sleeping in cars, caravans or damp, cold garages.

However, I won't be surprised if we hear more of this bleating as infill developments go up under Auckland's Unitary Plan.

Intensification, though, is something more Aucklanders are going to have to get used to as the city continues its rapid growth.

If Housing Minister Phil Twyford's KiwiBuild programme - which aims to construct 50,000 homes across Auckland in the next 10 years - is going to be a success, then New Zealand's biggest city needs to stop its sprawl.

Auckland already feels extremely spread out and the more it continues to creep outwards, the more we're going to have to fund infrastructure extensions to cater to greenfields growth.

Motorway congestion, too, will become even more of a headache, with people more likely to stick with their cars if they face a long commute to or from areas where public transport has yet to be properly established.

And call me a millennial who wants it all, but I refuse to accept that affordable housing should only be available to those willing to live an hour and a half out of the central city.

If Auckland wants vibrant communities - rather than generational enclaves - we're going to have to accept the way our neighbourhoods look will have to change.

It means more terraced housing and more homes being squeezed on to existing sections.

It means more multi-storey apartment buildings, particularly in suburbs where none are now.

And it means accepting that these types of buildings will help Auckland's chronic housing shortage - even if they happen to pop up across your back fence.