In its recent article “Opportunities to Increase Housing Production and Preservation,” HUD describes the current housing crisis in the United States and connects an inadequate supply of housing to rising costs.
Housing production, while rising, is overshadowed by a lack in building permits for new housing. HUD attributes the inevitable increase in cost-burdened households and home prices to a federal, state and local regulatory environment that “contributes to the extensive mismatch between supply and need.”
The article also points to a HUD white paper, “Eliminating Regulatory Barriers to Affordable Housing: Federal, State, Local, and Tribal Opportunities,” describing efforts of local and state government actions to reduce barriers that limit housing production. Examples extend beyond higher-profile jurisdictions, such as Minneapolis, Portland, Ore., and California, to include legislation such as Arkansas SB 170, preventing cities and counties from regulating building design elements, which can needlessly raise housing costs.
NAHB and the Arkansas Home Builders Association were active stakeholders in this legislation to ensure overly prescriptive design standards — for example, only allowing homes with certain exterior building materials or even a minimum number of roof pitches — would not create additional barriers to homeownership. This example along with more can be found in NAHB’s report, “Residential Design Standards: How Stringent Regulations Restrict Affordability and Choice.”
One of the most noted examples of restrictive land use in this country is single-family zoning. Multiple state and local governments, and even the Biden administration, have begun to prioritize changing zoning codes to allow a greater variety of unit types on residential land. HUD’s white paper acknowledges “many communities throughout the country limit the production of the ‘missing middle’ housing, that set of diverse, unsubsidized housing options that blend into single-family neighborhoods, ranging from bungalow courts, townhouses, duplexes to fourplexes, and courtyard apartments, which is necessary to meet the spectrum of housing.”
NAHB outlines strong examples of these types of “missing middle” housing in its report, “Diversifying Housing Options with Smaller Lots and Smaller Homes.”
NAHB has been active in advocating for better land development policy and providing resources to help educate the public on the impact such policies can have on housing affordability. To access these resources and find out more information on effective land development policies, visit nahb.org.