March 15, 2004
HUD HELPING COMMUNITIES EXPAND AFFORDABLE HOUSING THROUGH REGULATORY REFORM
New brochure introduced as a part of America's Affordable Communities Initiative
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) this week released a new brochure that illustrates how excessive regulations can drive up local housing costs, pricing many families out of homes in the communities where they work. HUD's "Bringing Homes Within Reach Through Regulatory Reform" is designed to encourage some 25,000 local government officials and community leaders throughout the country to work together to identify solutions to the housing affordability challenge.
Numerous studies have long concluded that regulatory barriers such as exclusionary zoning, outdated building and rehabilitation codes and duplicative review processes, can add up to 35-percent to the cost of a home or rental unit. However, the studies come as no surprise to HUD's regulatory experts and, in fact, are the exact reason why HUD launched its America's Affordable Communities Initiative (AACI), a department-wide priority.
"In communities throughout America you can find numerous examples of burdensome rehabilitation codes, excessive land development standards and other regulatory hurdles that drive up the cost of housing," said Alphonso Jackson, Acting HUD Secretary. "Often the result is many middle-income workers, such as police officers, firefighters, teachers and nurses are forced to commute long distances because they are unable to find affordable housing in the communities they serve."
"The goal of the brochure is to provide timely information to community leaders and create a national dialogue aimed at developing innovative strategies to overcome those regulatory barriers that can all too often price housing out of reach for families and individuals," explained A. Bryant Applegate, Senior Counsel and Director of HUD's Affordable Communities Initiative. "This Administration is deeply committed to making sure that affordable homeownership and rental opportunities are made available for hard working Americans serving our communities across the nation."
The brochure is the latest of HUD's efforts to educate communities on the potentially detrimental impact of regulatory barriers on affordable housing and encourage communities to hold public forums on the reduction of regulatory barriers.
HUD recently created an Affordable Initiatives Communities Initiative team that is carefully reviewing all HUD rules, policies and notices of funding availability, to ensure that no unnecessary regulatory barriers exist or are being proposed. The initiative team is also developing numerous other projects, including:
- A new, annual awards program designed to honor those communities that are expanding affordable housing opportunities by reducing regulatory barriers and creating an environment supportive of the construction and rehabilitation of affordable housing;
- A potential restructuring of the NOFA process, aimed at reducing regulatory barriers at the local level by giving applicants the option of answering a series of questions on what their jurisdictions are doing to address and/or remove some common regulatory barriers;
- The release of an update to the 1991 Kemp Commission report "Not in My Backyard - Removing Regulatory Barriers to Affordable Housing;" and
- The holding of a major affordable housing conference and a series of roundtable discussions.
HUD also launched the Regulatory Barriers Clearinghouse, a web-based forum that provides builders and developers from around the country the opportunity to share ideas and solutions for overcoming state and local regulatory barriers to affordable housing. The Clearinghouse supports state and local governments, builders, community planners, non-profits, and the American public seeking information about laws, regulations, and policies affecting the development, maintenance, improvement, availability, and cost of affordable housing. Services offered by the Regulatory Barriers Clearinghouse include:
- A searchable database of publications, local laws, regulations, policies, and plans that identifies problem areas and offers possible solutions based on real-world experiences;
- A toll-free number (1-800-245-2691, option 4) staffed by housing professionals familiar with regulatory barrier issues and the clearinghouse collection; and
- An electronic newsletter that highlights successful barrier removal strategies and policies, including a brief list of sources for further information.
"I am confident that the steps we are taking to educate community leaders are making a tangible difference," said Applegate. "The ideas being generated and shared on our Web site, in forums and in our publications are making community leaders more aware of the affordability problem and eventually will produce more affordable housing for hard working families across America."
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 espanol.hud.gov.