Excessive and often unnecessary regulatory barriers are closing the door to affordable housing for American working families, according to a massive report just release by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
They are teachers, police officers, nurses, firefighters and returning veterans-the sort of people anyone would be happy to call a neighbor. Yet, in certain areas, these hard-working families are forced to commute long distances, or live in substandard or overcrowded housing because excessive regulations are artificially driving up the cost of housing. This is among the findings of a new report released today by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson.
"Why Not in Our Community?" is HUD's first substantive examination of the impact of regulatory barriers on affordable housing since the Department's groundbreaking 1991 Report "Not in My Backyard."
"This report is a call to action for government at every level to rethink its approach to affordable housing and begin asking, 'why not?'" said Jackson. "All of us need to raise the level of common sense to make sure we don't create man-made obstacles that close doors on the very people who should be our neighbors."
Like the "Not in My Backyard" study, this report finds that outdated, exclusionary and unnecessary regulations continue to block the construction or rehabilitation of affordable housing in some parts of America. "Why Not in Our Community?" also finds that many communities are actively removing these barriers and promoting the production of housing that was formerly beyond the reach of many working families. HUD's report points to a number of trends in today's housing market:
What is a regulatory barrier?
Barriers are public statutes, ordinances, 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 such as teachers, police officers, firefighters, service personnel or nurses 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 or young families may not be able to find a home in the communities where they were raised.
Changing the mindset
More than a decade after the publication of "Not in My Backyard," the regulatory climate is changing in many parts of America. "Why Not in Our Community?" found that many jurisdictions are reducing regulatory barriers to affordable housing, particularly in areas where the supply of affordable housing is increasingly scarce. These communities are rewriting their rules in such a way as to reduce the time and money required to build and rehabilitate homes. In some cases, these communities are lowering the cost of housing affordable to working families by tens of thousands of dollars.
In addition, HUD is reviewing all the federal regulations in the Department's program areas to determine if there are any unnecessary, duplicative or obsolete barriers. For the first time in the Department's history, all proposed regulations now must be reviewed for their potential impact on affordable housing before taking effect.