HUD Hosts Symposium to Address Regulations Restricting Affordable Housing Production

By Anuradha Kher, Online News EditorWashington, D.C.–The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently hosted a national affordable housing symposium in Washington, D.C. to confront excessive and unnecessary regulations that are restricting the production of affordable housing for working families. HUD recognized several communities for reducing or eliminating regulatory barriers to affordable housing, including Austin, Texas; Bartlesville, Okla.; Bowling Green, Ky.; Montgomery County, Md.; Minneapolis, Minn.; Traverse City, Mich.; Commonwealth of Puerto Rico; and Savannah, Ga. “When it comes to encouraging the production of affordable homes, these communities are getting the job done,” says HUD Secretary Steve Preston. “We ought not to stand in the way of affordable housing when so many of our neighbors are being forced to live far away from the places where they work.”Among HUD’s highest priorities is an effort to help communities across America to identify and overcome regulatory barriers that impede the availability of affordable housing.  In 2003, America’s Affordable Communities Initiative was launched to stimulate a national dialogue on ways to reduce these barriers. Last year, HUD issued a National Call to Action to further encourage local communities to revisit their regulatory landscape and reduce or eliminate those barriers to affordable housing. Over the years, HUD has found that regulations such as out-of-date building codes; duplicative or time-consuming design review or approval processes; burdensome rehabilitation codes; restrictive or exclusionary zoning ordinances; unnecessary or excessive fees or taxes; extreme environmental restrictions and excessive or “gold-plated” land development standards, all contribute to higher housing costs and production delays. This has a direct impact on middle-income individuals such as teachers, firefighters, police officers, returning veterans, nurses, and others. By removing affordable housing barriers, HUD estimates these communities could reduce development costs by as much as 35 percent, allowing millions of working families to buy or rent suitable housing that they could not otherwise afford.