Governor Signs Arkansas Housing Affordability Bill into Law

Housing Affordability
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[caption id="attachment_14715" align="alignleft" width="300"] Arkansas Governor Hutchinson signs SB 170 into law as Act 446.[/caption] In a victory for state home builders and NAHB, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson earlier this week signed SB 170 into law, which will prevent cities and counties from regulating building design that would needlessly raise the cost of housing. The Arkansas Home Builders Association (AHBA), along with realtors and other trade groups and consumers, lobbied aggressively for this legislative remedy after the city of Springdale proposed changes to its Residential Design Standards for new homes that would prohibit exterior finishes such as vinyl, wood and aluminum siding that are otherwise permitted under all editions of the International Residential Code. Other proposed changes such as roof pitch, front facing garages and wrought iron fencing would collectively increase building costs and price entry-level buyers out of the market. With Arkansas and the rest of the nation already facing a housing affordability crisis, the AHBA argued that the proposed standards are a form of exclusionary zoning that would increase housing costs and price out certain groups of prospective home owners from the Springdale housing market. "The ability of persons from all economic segments to own a home is one of many reasons America is who we are. The commitment from home builders to defend property rights and continue to protect all Americans is why I was so pleased to work alongside NAHB and pass legislation that will continue to uphold these ideas," said Arkansas State Senator Bart Hester, the lead sponsor of the bill, now known as Act 446. Arkansas State Rep. Bruce Cozart also noted the importance of being able to design a home of your choosing. "Building a new home is a special time in a family’s life," he said. "That means that they would like to be involved in all parts of the building process, especially the design and aesthetics of their new home. If they can’t have the things that make them happy, then it's just a house without the love of a home." Arkansas home builder Keith Wingfield noted the legislation is particularly important for young families seeking to get a toe hold on the homeownership ladder. "The issue of affordability really affects everyone, but especially first-time home buyers," he said. "If we don’t find ways to keep housing affordable we will eliminate a group of people that would like to be home buyers but end up renting." He added that passage of the bill "was a huge win for not only housing but the AHBA. We came together as a group from all over the state and worked together for the betterment of our industry." Act 446 can serve as a legislative template to fight unfair proposals that may be submitted at a future date in other localities throughout the nation that would seek to establish unreasonable residential development standards which would make housing too expensive for lower- and middle-income families to afford. "Cities and states might not be able to prevent the high product costs and rising interest rates that affect the housing industry nationwide, but fortunately they can prevent more costs that come from adding unnecessary design regulations to homes," said Arkansas builder John Rausch. For more information, contact Michael Bezruki at 800-368-5242 x8542.

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