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President Orders Probe Into Affordable Housing Creation

A new White House Council will try to ease or, in some cases, eliminate rules blamed for blocking new affordable housing construction.

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump signed an executive order establishing the White House Council on Eliminating Barriers to Affordable Housing Development on Tuesday in the Oval Office.

The order’s goals are to ease or, in some cases, eliminate rules blamed for blocking more affordable housing construction. Homebuilding, near its lowest level in 60 years, contributes to a nationwide housing shortage that has pushed up home prices and battered affordability.

Under the order, the council will consider ways the federal programs can encourage local governments to allow more building. The council, which will be chaired by Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, will also conduct a study to quantify the effect of regulations on the housing market and economy.

The White House’s move was largely welcomed by the real estate industry, which has long called for more access to affordable housing.

For nearly four decades, household incomes have increased at a slower rate than home prices – a problem made worse by the Great Recession, says National Association of Realtors® President John Smaby.

“Today, despite historic economic growth and recovery, misguided regulations and gaps in new-home construction have stopped far too many Americans from purchasing a home,” Smaby says. “We look forward to continuing to work closely with the White House to ensure the American dream remains attainable for all those who seek to become homeowners.”

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) echoed that sentiment. It has long blamed zoning restrictions for curtailing a full recovery in home construction since the recession.

NAHB called the need to tackle housing affordability “urgent” and applauded the formation of a new council that would “seek to reduce regulatory barriers that are making housing more costly.”

According to NAHB studies, regulations account for nearly 25% of the price of building a single-family home and more than 30% of the cost of a typical multifamily development.

Source: “Trump Administration to Take on Local Housing Barriers,” The Wall Street Journal (June 25, 2019) [Log-in required.]

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