The Department of Housing and Urban Development this week announced it would create a new funding incentive to encourage state and local communities to remove excessive regulations that inhibit the production of affordable housing.

On March 22, HUD notified potential applicants of its competitively awarded grant programs that it would begin awarding priority points to governmental and nongovernmental applicants in communities that have successfully demonstrated efforts to reduce regulatory barriers that prevent many working families from living in the communities of their choice.

This week’s announcement is part of America’s Affordable Communities Initiative, which aims to stimulate the production of more affordable housing at the local level.

“We want to motivate our state and local partners, the non-profit community and other applicants to work together in addressing obstacles to affordable housing,” said A. Bryant Applegate, senior counsel and director of HUD’s Affordable Communities Initiative (AACI). “We believe this initiative will facilitate a dialogue on reducing excessive regulations that have a very real impact on working families being priced out of their own communities.”

Common regulatory barriers include exclusionary zoning; antiquated building codes; duplicative reviews and approval processes; and, excessive and unwarranted fees. These regulatory burdens can add tens of thousands of dollars to the cost of affordable housing, forcing hard-working lower-income Americans such as teachers, firefighters, police officers, nurses and returning veterans to move out of their own communities.

Applicants for certain HUD programs may elect to answer a series of questions about the affordable housing climate in their communities in order to be considered for the priority points. This questionnaire is strictly voluntary and an applicant can choose not to participate. However, because competition for HUD funding is often closely contested, an extra point or two in the evaluative process can prove decisive. In establishing this new priority points initiative, HUD is encouraging communities to play a more active role in improving access to affordable housing through regulatory reform.

HUD is a federal agency that implements housing policy.

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