HUD Archives: News Releases

HUD No. 05-010
Dwight Peterson
(801) 524-6071
For Release
July 22, 2005

City of Provo cited as a model for removing regulatory barriers that drive up housing costs

WASHINGTON - They are teachers, police officers, nurses, firefighters and returning veterans-the sort of people anyone would be happy to call a neighbor. In some communities, however, excessive regulations are creating barriers that artificially drive up housing costs on working families. Today, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson recognized the City of Provo for its efforts in breaking down these barriers and creating a more inclusive environment for families struggling to afford decent homes.

As more Americans become homeowners, rising housing costs are pricing out millions of hard-working families who hope to find homes close to their jobs and within their budgets. Often, regulations that drive up the cost of housing are to blame.

HUD is taking a fresh look at these barriers to affordable housing with its America's Affordable Communities Initiative. This initiative is designed to combat the outdated, excessive and duplicative regulations that significantly increase the cost and limit the supply of affordable housing and is motivating communities like the City of Provo to take a look at their housing regulations and determine which ones no longer serve a valid public purpose.

"We know that regulatory barriers can increase housing costs by as much as 35 percent, making it impossible for many working families to live in the cities where we work," said Jackson. "Other communities around the country can learn from Provo City's efforts to open more doors for the very people who should be our neighbors."

Two specific initiatives in Provo have the potential to lower barriers for qualifying affordable housing projects. The City established an Accessory Dwelling Overlay Zone (A-Overlay). Also, the City of Provo has instituted a Project Redevelopment Option (PRO) zone, which provides a mechanism for the City and developers to vary from conventional development standards.

The City of Provo is one of the few municipalities in Utah to establish an Accessory Dwelling Overlay Zone (A-Overlay). The City established the overlay zone in order to encourage and promote an environment for family life by providing for the establishment of accessory dwellings in owner occupied family detached dwellings on individual lots. The overlay zone allows accessory apartments in many of the City's residential zones to provide flexibility for the changes in household size associated with life cycle; to offer financial security for home buyers; and to offer security against problems associated with frailty in old age. Provo's new overlay zone is being promoted as a model for other communities looking to add additional housing options. The community found single - family homeowners need more flexibility in managing their primary residences as an asset to produce income as well as meet the demands of changing demographics.

Provo has instituted a Project Redevelopment Option (PRO) zone. This zone is designed for use mainly in older, densely developed areas, often on infill sites. It provides a mechanism for the City and developers to vary from conventional development standards for exceptionally well-designed development - essentially by writing a new project-specific zone. By focusing more on quality of design and less on one-size fits-all standards for setbacks etc., the PRO zone can eliminate the expense of meeting standards which were put in place to protect against development abuses but which may be irrelevant to extraordinary projects.

The Affordable Communities Initiative focuses on local, county, and state efforts to revise statutes and ordinances to promote affordability as well as reduce, defer, or eliminate burdensome regulations, fees, processes and procedures that significantly restrict the development of affordable housing without providing a commensurate health or safety benefit. These barriers can effectively exclude working individuals from living in the communities where they work. In addition, senior citizens often find it impossible to locate suitable homes or apartments near their adult children, and young families are unable to find a home in the communities where they were raised.

By recognizing communities like the City of Provo, HUD hopes to encourage others around the country to reexamine their own regulatory climate and work closely with builders and urban planners to find creative solutions to allow for the development of more affordable housing.

"We recognize that what might work here in Provo may not be appropriate in other parts of the country," said John Carson, HUD's Regional Director. "The City of Provo's leadership in this area reminds us how important it is to work together to reduce barriers that stifle the development of housing affordable to our teachers, nurses, police officers or returning veterans."

HUD is the nation's housing agency committed to increasing homeownership, particularly among minorities; creating affordable housing opportunities for low-income Americans; and, supporting the homeless, elderly, people with disabilities and people living with AIDS. The Department also promotes economic and community development as well as enforces the nation's fair housing laws. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet and


NOTE: For more information about America's Affordable Communities Initiative, visit

Content Archived: March 15, 2011