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HUD #07-WA-04
Martha Dilts
(206) 220-5101 or (877) 741-3281
www.hud.gov/washington
For Release
Monday
June 25, 2007

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JACKSON APPEALS TO NATION’S MAYORS TO CUT RED TAPE CHOKING WORKFORCE HOUSING
Washington State and six communities sign on to National Call to Action to reduce regulatory barriers

SEATTLE, WA - All across the country, unnecessary regulations are pricing housing out of reach of millions of working families, said U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson in an address to the U.S. Conference of Mayors, where he called on America's urban leaders to cut excessive or unnecessary regulations that can drive up housing costs by as much as 35 percent.

Jackson issued HUD's National Call to Action for Affordable Housing Through Regulatory Reform to encourage local communities to join more than 150 communities and organizations that have agreed to reexamine their regulations and, where necessary, reduce or eliminate barriers that effectively drive up the cost of housing beyond the reach of millions of Americans. To date, Washington State and the following Washington communities have formally endorsed HUD's National Call to Action: King County; City of Seattle; Pierce County; City of Tacoma; City of Walla Walla; and City of Wenatchee.

"Red tape is literally choking the life out of housing that's affordable to working families," said Jackson. "Today, I'm calling on local communities to join us as we identify and remove these man-made barriers that prevent teachers, police officers, firefighters and others from living in communities of their choice. These are people who are the backbone of any community. We want them to be able to not just serve their community, but to be able to afford to live in it."

In 1991, HUD released a landmark report, Not in My Back Yard, which found exclusionary, discriminatory or unnecessary regulations pose a serious barrier to the production of affordable housing. In 2005, HUD published a comprehensive follow-up study, Why Not in Our Community?, that found NIMBYism is still a problem in many communities. HUD's latest report concluded that removing these affordable housing barriers could reduce development costs by up to 35 percent, creating millions of homes that hard-working American families could afford to buy or rent.

Numerous recent studies have also demonstrated how certain barriers can impact the production of workforce housing. For example:

  • Excessive regulations increase the average cost of a single-family home built in subdivisions by $12,000. Nationally, these unnecessary regulations total approximately $15 billion.
  • One community required builders to provide 4.5 parking spaces per home, effectively banning multi-family and senior housing developments.
  • It is no longer unusual that communities require at least five years to gain all necessary permits and approvals, significantly raising the costs of development.
  • In a number of California communities, impact fees alone can exceed $45,000 per home.
  • In 42 metropolitan areas, eliminating unnecessary regulations, fees and delays could reduce housing costs by an average of ten percent.

Trends in today's housing market include complex environmental and other regulations that can significantly increase the length and cost of home building review and approval processes, in some cases by more than five years. "'Smart growth' principles can also be misused as a pretext to justify restricting available land that could otherwise be developed into workforce housing. Obsolete building and rehabilitation codes may not consider modern building materials or methods that can substantial lower construction or rehab costs.

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, veterans 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 15 years 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. For example, Idaho enacted a state law requiring municipalities to permit manufactured homes to be located in residential neighborhoods. Florida created a statewide one-stop permitting system to significantly speed up the homebuilding process. Minnesota created tax incentives to encourage the preservation and creation of affordable housing. New Jersey adopted a new housing rehabilitation code that reduced costs by 25 percent, significantly increasing rehab activity.

What's HUD doing to reduce barriers?

HUD is reviewing all current federal regulations in the Department's program areas to determine if there are any unnecessary, duplicative or obsolete barriers. In addition, for the first time in the Department's history, all proposed regulations now must also be reviewed for their potential impact on affordable housing before taking effect.

In an effort to spark a national dialogue on the issue of barrier reduction, HUD launched America's Affordable Communities Initiative in 2003. Among the Department's highest priorities, this initiative is designed to help communities across America identify and overcome regulatory barriers that impede the availability of affordable housing. Barrier reduction is also a central part of President Bush's strategy for increasing the supply of affordable housing by seven million over the next 10 years. For more information about America's Affordable Communities Initiative, visit www.hud.gov/initiatives/affordablecom.cfm.

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