To end the affordable housing crisis, Washington needs to legalize Main Street

Grant Cunningham, Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The burdensome and restrictive over-regulation of America's small towns and centers have long plagued efforts by planners and developers to reimagine these places as vibrant and multi purposed communities. This reality may be changing, however, as calls increase from across the political spectrum to overhaul such regulatory processes.

Jonathan Coppage of the R Street Institute echoes these calls, made frequently by CNU and others, in his opinion piece today in The Wasghinton Post. Confronting current federal housing policy, he writes:

"In a sign that market solutions for the United States’ growing housing affordability crisis are beginning to earn bipartisan support, the White House this week unveiled its “Housing Development Toolkit,” which encourages state and local policymakers to undertake a number of long-overdue reforms.

The tool kit draws on some of the best and most up-to-date research on housing affordability and cites such respected researchers as Harvard University economist Ed Glaeser. But for such reforms to benefit smaller and distressed communities, Washington needs to undo its own role in distorting the housing market. In short, the Federal Housing Administration has to relegalize Main Street.

The White House’s calls for local policymakers to expand by-right development (where allowable building projects can proceed administratively, without years-long public hearing processes) and accessory dwelling units, to repeal or reduce minimum parking requirements, and to rezone neighborhoods for greater possible density all amount to restoring landowners’ rights to develop property as they and the market see fit. As the tool kit notes, inappropriate parking requirements, in particular, can raise the expected rent in a new development by as much as 50 percent, while depriving towns of socially and commercially productive land."

For the full story, read more at The Washington Post.

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