Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Dr. Ben Carson today discussed how the government and home builders can work together to tackle the nation’s affordability crisis in an address to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Board of Directors during its annual meeting in Las Vegas.
“Few conditions afflict the hearts of Americans as much as a shortage of affordable homes,” said Carson. “By aligning the conditions for increased affordable housing supply with the best interests of home buyers, builders, innovators and regulators, we can unlock the production of more affordable homes for countless American families in the years to come.”
The HUD secretary stressed the importance of reducing regulatory costs, stating that he often cites NAHB research that shows nearly 25 percent of the cost of a single-family home stems from federal, state and local regulations and that the cost is even higher for multifamily development.
“We are looking into ways that would incentivize local officials to cut back on archaic state and local regulatory barriers, such as outmoded zoning and land use restrictions,” said Carson. “The free market may be guided by an ‘invisible hand,’ but unnecessary government and regulatory barriers act like ‘invisible handcuffs.’ It’s time to untie the hands of our nation’s home builders by putting the ‘free’ back into the free market.”
In a move that will help spur the production of badly needed apartment units, Carson announced that HUD’s Office of Multifamily Housing Programs is expanding the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Pilot Program into the agency’s New Construction and Substantial Rehabilitation loan products with the publication of a new notice. This will make it easier for builders to use FHA-insured loans to finance Low Income Housing Tax Credit projects.
As chairman of the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council, Carson spoke about opportunities for builders and other private sector participants to invest in opportunity zones, which are designed to incentivize economic development in under-served communities. Developers may use a Qualified Opportunity Zone Fund to help fund projects that could help increase residential housing within the designated opportunity zone.
“Homeownership is the most powerful mechanism for wealth creation in our nation,” said Carson. “Both HUD and NAHB share a common mantra: homes are not just roofs over people’s heads, they are at the heart of building communities. If we continue to align our efforts to ensure safe, fair and affordable housing is within reach for all Americans, we can build a better America with you.”
Before addressing NAHB’s board members, Carson participated in the 75th anniversary of the International Builders’ Show by touring the latest building products and innovations on the exhibit floor.