Transcript of Video for the Western Regional Housing Summit


Good morning. It's wonderful to join you.

At HUD, one of our most important efforts is to provide families with affordable housing. And one way we do this is through the America's Affordable Communities Initiative. This is a landmark partnership between HUD and local communities. It is helping communities across America to identify and overcome regulatory barriers that prevent families from finding affordable workforce housing. We know some of these barriers can create difficult, expensive obstacles. In some parts of the in many parts of California, Nevada, Arizona, Hawaii, and Guam...excessive red tape is even preventing the construction of housing for America's workforce.

That is why this conference is so important. You want to continue to ensure that our cities include people of all incomes and classes. I agree with you. We must not price-out the very people who make our cities functional and livable. For any community to be healthy, we need housing that's affordable to teachers, police officers, fire fighters, transportation workers, and nurses. These are the people that make any community work. They make our cities great, locations of culture, business, recreation, and sports, places where our families grow up and grow old together.

But over the years, some communities have created layer upon layer of regulations, many of which have long since outlived their usefulness. These regulatory fossils do nothing for the community, but ratchet up the costs for homeownership and renting. A recent study by HUD in 2007 found, and other studies have confirmed, that unnecessary regulations increase the average cost of a single-family home by thousands of dollars. If we add it all up, these regulatory barriers total approximately $15 billion a year. In some parts of California, the National Association of Homebuilders has said that the cost of red tape can add more than $100,000 to the price of a home. Imagine that, a six figure price add-on that doesn't buy anything of value.

And there's no shortage of examples. A HUD study in 2005 found that one community required builders to provide four-and-a-half parking spaces per home, effectively banning multi-family and senior housing developments. That same study found that it often takes years to get all necessary permits and approvals to build a home. Again, here in California, the study found that impact fees alone can exceed $45,000 per home.

You and I know that local government officials have the difficult task of balancing competing interests and community needs. We know that many of the regulations were well meaning and intended for valid public purposes. However, over time, they have become outdated, burdensome, or duplicative. And it is time for those regulations to be changed or eliminated, unleashing Americans from the costly and unnecessary deadweight of counterproductive, ancient regulations.

It's not easy to do this ... to remove regulations once they're on the books. But we must do it to expand the availability of affordable housing.

And we must do more than make regulatory changes. We must change attitudes too. Some people fight against affordable housing in their neighborhoods, primarily because of misinformation and fear. We must be vocal advocates for affordable housing...advocates who educate and persuade. The problem is not to convince Americans we need affordable housing. Most people...and affordable housing. The need is to convince them to allow affordable housing to be located in their neighborhoods, in their communities.

We must unite behind a powerful and important message: affordable housing is good for the community. It brings in the people who are committed to the community and work in the community. It provides stable and long-term occupancy. The real truth about affordable workforce housing is that it's indistinguishable from so-called "market housing" and has absolutely no adverse impact on property values.

We must remove the misinformation and fiction surrounding affordable housing. For example, HUD is leading a campaign to make affordable housing more available. We've launched a "National Call to Action" to cultivate a movement across this country...a movement of states and communities that recognize regulatory barriers to affordable housing are ultimately self-defeating. More than 140 states and local communities have already signed on and are taking action. They are pledging to reduce or eliminate these barriers to affordable housing.

For those of you who have not joined this movement, we invite you to consider it. Your participation will be extremely valuable for working families and your communities.

HUD will continue to press ahead in this campaign. We are hoping to hold a "National Call to Action" conference in the fall. This conference would bring together people from all over the nation. They will come to Washington to assess our efforts and plan for future actions to increase affordable housing in our cities and states.

We must do all of this and more. We must save our communities for working families...for the very people we should be proud to call our neighbors.

Thank you. Best wishes for a successful conference.


Content Archived: January 27, 2012