As documented in the 2020 book, RECONOMICS: The Path To Resilient Prosperity, affordable housing is often the key component in community revitalization efforts.
This is even more so when that housing is located downtown or near public transit. And, either downtowns currently suffering a glut of office space, the need to convert commercial buildings to residential use is at an all-time high.
But local regulations and policies are often obstacles to all of these needed activities.
Now, on July 27, 2023, the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) took two actions to lower housing costs for Americans by increasing the supply of affordable housing.
HUD’s actions will make it easier to build new housing and providing new tools for preserving and improving deeply affordable housing.
An $85 million first-of-its-kind competitive PRO Housing funding opportunity for jurisdictions and new guidance for providers of affordable housing will help communities address local housing challenges.
“HUD recognizes that communities have unique housing challenges and that’s why the resources announced today are not one size fits all. HUD is proud to highlight the efforts of communities who are committed to housing-forward policies and practices and through PRO Housing we hope to support them with funding as well,” said Secretary Marcia L. Fudge.
“Today, we are acting to increase the supply of affordable housing, which is crucial to lowering housing costs. We look forward to continuing this work in partnership with local communities,” she added.
First, HUD is announcing the availability of $85 million innovative competitive grants for communities to identify and remove barriers to affordable housing production and preservation.
A first of its kind program, Pathways to Removing Obstacles to Housing (PRO Housing) will help communities further develop, evaluate, and implement housing policy plans; address restrictive zoning, land use, or regulatory policies; improve housing strategies; and facilitate affordable housing production and preservation.
Grants to local governments, states, metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), and multijurisdictional entities will range from $1 million to $10 million.
Second, HUD is also providing public housing authorities and multifamily housing owners participating in the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) with new tools to repair and build affordable housing.
HUD’s supplemental RAD notice provides additional flexibilities for housing providers that will enhance RAD’s ability to support repairs to thousands of affordable homes over the next three years. The notice also promotes water- and energy-efficiency investments and includes new requirements that address climate resilience and adopt stronger energy efficiency standards.
Additionally, the notice provides $12 million to support preservation transactions of eligible housing for the elderly.
These actions follow through on commitments made by the Biden-Harris Administration in its Housing Supply Action Plan, with the key objective of lowering the cost of housing for all Americans.
These actions build on progress already made by HUD, including reviving the Risk Sharing program, that has so far supported the preservation and creation of 12,000 affordable homes since its restart, and providing communities with $5 billion for the through HOME-ARP program, which will create over 20,000 new affordable homes for people experiencing homelessness, facing housing insecurity, fleeing domestic violence, and veterans.