New Federal & Local Affordable Housing Measures

On both a national and local scale, Housing Affordability is a great challenge, and one that has commanded headlines recently.

Federal

At the Federal level, President Trump recently signed an Executive Order to establish the “White House Council on Eliminating Regulatory Barriers to Affordable Housing.” As National Mortgage Professional reports, the task force will look at local, tribal, state, and federal policies that increase the cost of affordable housing and impede timelines. The Council will then recommend “policies that would streamline the regulatory burdens that would speed the development of affordable housing construction.” The first report is due in January 2021.

John Smaby, presdient of the National Association of REALTORS® thanked the President in a statement, “for taking much-needed steps to address housing affordability in this country.” He says NAR looks “forward to continuing to work closely with the White House to ensure the American Dream remains attainable for all those who seek to become homeowners.”

Housingwire adds that “according to White House, many of the markets that suffer the most from a lack of affordable housing have the most restrictive state and local regulations. More than a quarter of the cost of building a new home is a direct result of regulation, the White House said. This has slowed the pace of single-family and multifamily construction so that it cannot keep up with the new household formations.”

Local

Here in Seattle in early July, Seattle City Council unanimously approved a bill to allow for more Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) within the city. As KOMO News reports, the bill “will allow two ADUs on a property instead of one and the unit size has been increased from 800 square feet to 1,000 square feet.” This could allow homeowners to build income-generating cottages in their backyards, to promote affordability in homes within the Seattle area. The legislation also restricted the size and ability of “McMansions,” as a way to promote affordability in projects. As councilmember Mike O’Brien noted in a release, “the changes are expected to increase the backyard cottage supply by 2,400 units for 10 years, while simultaneously decreasing the expected number of tear-downs of existing homes by 450.”  

Seattle could eventually end up with design and construction firms that specialize in ADUs that adhere to local regulations, as has been the case in the Los Angeles area: