Roundtable Weekly
HUD Requests Stakeholder Comments on Barriers to Affordable Housing
December 6, 2019

[Left to right: Roundtable Chair Debra Cafaro (Ventas, Inc), HUD Secretary Ben Carson and Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer discuss affordable housing issues during The Roundtable's Fall 2019 Meeting.]

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on Nov. 22 published a Request for Information (RFI) seeking public comment on Federal, State, local, and Tribal laws, regulations, land use requirements, and administrative practices that may pose barriers to affordable housing development.

  • HUD is also asking stakeholders for their recommendations about innovative practices that promote increased housing supply.  (HUD news release, Nov. 26 and HousingWire, Nov. 27)
  • The RFI is part of an effort undertaken by HUD Secretary Ben Carson as chair of the White House Council on Eliminating Regulatory Barriers to Affordable Housing.  The Council’s eight Federal member agencies are tasked with engaging governments at all levels and private-sector stakeholders on ways to increase the housing supply and access to affordable housing.  (Roundtable Weekly, June 28)
  • HUD’s outreach to stakeholders is a result of President Trump’s June 25 Executive Order, “Establishing a White House Council on Eliminating Regulatory Barriers to Affordable Housing.”  State and local law barriers identified in the Order include overly restrictive zoning and environmental laws, rent regulations, excessive energy and water efficiency mandates, impediments to higher-density projects, time-consuming permit procedures, complex labor requirements, and inordinate development impact fees. (White House Fact Sheet, June 25)
  • Responses to HUD’s RFI are due by Jan. 21, 2020.  The Roundtable will submit comments after finalizing a multi-faceted housing availability and affordability strategy recommending policies that encourage:

• State and local governments to adopt and implement Yes in My Backyard (“YIMBY”) land-use policies such as high-density zoning and expanding by-right multifamily zoned areas, to entitle affordable housing projects;

• Development of low-income and workforce housing units as a priority when the U.S. government disposes under-utilized and surplus federal properties;

• Construction of manufactured housing – the only form of housing regulated by a Federal building code that includes standards for health, safety, and energy efficiency – as a gateway that opens the door for homeownership for millions of families;

• An assessment of how short-term rental platforms (like Air BnB and Vrbo) may reduce supplies of units otherwise available for long-term housing;

• Mortgage underwriting standards that reduce barriers for first-time buyers with student loan debt to also qualify for federally-backed FHA loans geared toward low- and moderate-income borrowers;    

• Increased support for HUD’s Section 8 voucher program to assist very low-income, elderly, and disabled Americans to afford housing in the private market; and

• Modernizing the role of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac through GSE reform, to focus their mission on providing liquidity in mortgage markets geared toward low-income and middle-class home ownership.

On November 1, Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey D. DeBoer raised these priorities in a housing affordability summit at the White House with HUD Secretary Carson and other industry leaders.  DeBoer’s comments followed on the heels of Secretary Carson’s remarks to The Roundtable several days prior during its 2019 Fall Meeting.  (Roundtable Weekly, November 1, 2019).    

Affordable housing will be a focus of discussion during The Roundtable’s Jan. 28-29 State of the Industry Meeting in Washington, DC.

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