Dr. Ben Carson
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
NAHB International Builders' Show Leadership Council Meeting Remarks
Las Vegas, Nevada, Paradise Event Center, January 23, 2020


As prepared for delivery. The speaker may add or subtract comments during his presentation.

Thank you, Greg [Ugalde, NAHB Chairman], for that kind introduction. I'd also like to thank the many members of the Executive Board here today, as well as each of the leaders, innovators, and stakeholders who make this event possible.

I also applaud your continued success as an effective voice for the hundreds of thousands of men and women who build our nation's homes.

Innovative Housing Showcase

NAHB has been an invaluable partner to HUD over the years, most recently serving as co-hosts of the first-ever "Innovative Housing Showcase," which took place last summer on the National Mall in Washington, DC.

Throughout the five-day Showcase, we held panel discussions, on-stage interviews, and demonstrations with exhibitors, legislators, entrepreneurs, and leaders in the housing industry. We educated tens of thousands of people and impacted the national conversation on housing innovation among policymakers. Most importantly, we put an incredible variety of prototype homes on display that improve home affordability and resiliency, so fellow citizens could experience the thrill of innovation for themselves.

The Innovative Housing Showcase, like this week's International Builders' Show, illustrates that the future belongs to the American builder. That is why HUD is proud to announce we will be continuing the Innovative Housing Showcase as an annual tradition, with this year's event to take place in September 2020. Once again, NAHB will be our co-host in bringing this incredible event to life, and we look forward to our continued collaboration in the year ahead.

White House Council on Eliminating Regulatory Barriers; RFI Extension

NAHB's research also provides an indispensable source of insight into many trends and issues affecting our industry. The policies we implement at HUD are often built on a foundation of these insights, such as your studies quantifying the high costs of local and state regulations in affordable housing development, particularly for multifamily homes.

NAHB studies have helped to shape the vision of the White House Council on Eliminating Regulatory Barriers to Affordable Housing, which President Trump established last summer to increase the supply of new homes across the country. This Council, which I have the privilege to chair, is working with local leaders and citizens to identify and remove regulatory burdens that block affordable housing development.

To assist the Council's work, HUD recently issued a Request for Information to all Americans for input on perceived barriers that limit development. I hope you will lend your voice and share your experience to enhance our efforts before the comment window closes on January 31. We encourage NAHB members to take advantage of this open window to provide your insights and ideas.

Addressing our country's affordable housing challenges will take innovation not just in physical construction and development, but also innovation in developing housing choice. For example, municipalities may help alleviate barriers to renting apartments by providing renters with financing alternatives beyond a traditional lump-sum cash security deposit. While such creative solutions must always be validated by research and analysis, they are the kind of bold ideas we are hoping to solicit with our Request for Information.

HUD App

I would also like to congratulate NAHB on the launch of your newest mobile app, the "Pocket Guide to Fair Housing Act Accessibility."

Last summer, HUD's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity entered into a grant agreement with NAHB to develop this app, which is a quick reference guide to help homebuilders and designers understand accessibility requirements of the Fair Housing Act. While the app doesn't serve as a safe harbor, it is a first-of-its-kind tool that can greatly help builders and designers meet their accessible housing obligations under the Fair Housing Act. It also details specific dimension and measurement requirements for accessible housing and corresponding accessible features.

This online app launches today, and we hope everyone interested takes advantage of the trove of information it contains. You can find it in the Apple Store and the Google Play Store by searching for "FHA Guide."

Opportunity Zone Pilot Program; Procurement Preferences

Finally, I'll provide an update on HUD's work with the Opportunity Zone initiative, and our efforts to maximize the impact of the initiative in communities across the country that need it most. Opportunity Zones, as many of you know, were created by the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to spur greater private sector investment into economically distressed communities through powerful tax incentives.

Today, I am pleased to announce that HUD has initiated a pilot program to give procurement preferences to small businesses whose principal office is located in an Opportunity Zone. The pilot applies to procurements at or below the Simplified Acquisition Threshold, currently set at $250,000 dollars, and typically set aside for small businesses. The pilot began on January 1 and will run through June 30, 2020.

Through this procurement pilot, HUD will continue to lead the way in coordinating federal resources to Opportunity Zones across the country. Working with our partners, we can bring lasting change to the communities that need it most.

Conclusion

To conclude, I'd like to once again thank NAHB for sharing a common mantra, and a common mission, with HUD: we recognize that homes are not just roofs above peoples' heads ÔÇô they are at the heart of building communities.

It has been said that "there is no medicine like hope, no incentive so great, and no tonic so powerful as the expectation of something tomorrow."

If we continue to align our efforts to ensure quality and affordable housing is within reach for all Americans, together, we can build that better tomorrow.

Thank you for having me, and I look forward to your questions.

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