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This Database Is Streamlining Home Building and Reducing Costs

With the national housing supply low, HUD's Regulatory Barriers Clearinghouse seeks to bring affordable housing online faster.

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The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has identified strategies to increase the nation’s housing supply and, in turn, reduce cost burden for homeowners and renters.

HUD research shows that some federal, state, and local land use regulations are creating additional barriers to building new housing.

This is making the homebuilding process slower and more expensive. But a database of regulatory barriers, called the "Regulatory Barriers Clearinghouse," seeks to identify and eliminate blockages and red tape.

The department claims that increasing supply is critical to reducing rent and homeownership costs.

“Without significant new supply, cost burdens are likely to increase as current home prices reach all-time highs," says a recent press release.

It also cited successful efforts to increase housing production at the state, county, and city level.

Removing enough of these barriers may give the housing supply the boost it needs to keep up with an incoming wave of millennials entering their prime homebuying years.

Housing deficit: How did we get here?

The current housing deficit stems back to 2008. Builders were hesitant following the housing market collapse, resulting in decades of underproduction and a shortage of nearly 3.8 million homes by the fourth quarter of 2020.

The pandemic only exacerbated the supply shortage. While homebuyers took advantage of low interest rates and pent-up pandemic savings to buy more homes, builders faced shutdowns, increasing material costs, supply chain delays, and labor shortages.

By June 2021, the nation had just 1.1 months of supply. Six months is considered balanced.

According to FRED Economic Data, building permits for privately-owned housing units hit their highest point in 15 years in January 2021. However, builders are spending significantly more on materials, labor, and land, which is increasing the cost of new homes.

How the Regulatory Barriers Clearinghouse is helping

The Regulatory Barriers Clearinghouse contains thousands of barriers and solutions that make home building faster and more affordable.

Examples include:

  • Texas and North Carolina created “shot clocks” requiring local jurisdictions to review permit applications within a specific time period
  • Maricopa County, Arizona formed identical building codes and plan review checklists to simplify and speed up development
  • Buffalo, New York eliminated parking minimums in its Unified Development Ordinance

Each state, county, and city has different housing needs. The Regulatory Barriers Clearinghouse serves as a platform for these entities to share, compare, and develop strategies.

The clearinghouse initiative is part of a larger HUD effort to “create, preserve, and sell nearly 100,000 additional affordable homes… over the next three years” announced on September 1, 2020.

“These actions will expand access to critical capital for state Housing Finance Agencies, empower local communities to build more affordable housing using the historic investments contained in the American Rescue Plan, and advance equitable housing policies such as inclusionary zoning practices,” said HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge. “Moving forward, HUD and the Biden-Harris Administration will continue to pursue bold actions to create and preserve affordable homes for all Americans.”

Fairway is not affiliated with any government agencies. These materials are not from HUD or FHA, and were not approved by a government agency.

Some references sourced within this article have not been prepared by Fairway and are distributed for educational purposes only. The information is not guaranteed to be accurate and may not entirely represent the opinions of Fairway.

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