A new report released by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development found that excessive regulations are artificially driving up the cost of housing and forcing workers to commute long distances and live in substandard or overcrowded housing.

HUD’s study, “Why Not in Our Community?” examined the impact of regulatory barriers on affordable housing and found that outdated, exclusionary and unnecessary regulations continue to block the construction or rehabilitation of affordable housing in some parts of America.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 found 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:

  • Complex environmental regulations can significantly increase the length and cost of home-building review and approval processes;

  • “Smart growth” principles can be misused to justify limiting affordable housing production by restricting available land that could otherwise be developed;

  • Impact fees may not reflect the true infrastructure costs of a development and can artificially inflate the cost of housing;

  • Slow and burdensome permitting and approval systems remain serious impediments to affordable housing development, especially infill development in cities; and,

  • Obsolete building and rehabilitation codes may not reflect modern building materials or methods for cost-effective rehabilitation.

“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 HUD Secretary Alphonso 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.”

HUD, the federal agency that implements housing policy, 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.

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