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White House plan aims to increase housing supply, ease housing costs

Federal Issues Biden Consumer Finance Disparate Impact Affordable Housing GSEs

Federal Issues

On May 16, President Biden released a plan intended to “help close” the housing supply gap and lower housing costs. The White House’s Housing Supply Action Plan is structured to ease the burden of housing costs over five years by increasing the supply of quality, affordable housing units in the next three years. “When aligned with other policies to reduce housing costs and ensure affordability, such as rental assistance and down payment assistance, closing the gap will mean more affordable rents and more attainable homeownership for Americans in every community,” the Administration said in a statement. “This is the most comprehensive all of government effort to close the housing supply shortfall in history.”

Under the Plan, the Administration would:

  • Reward jurisdictions that have reformed zoning and land-use policies with higher scores in certain federal grant processes, including by immediately leveraging transportation funding to encourage state and local governments to boost housing supply (where consistent with current statutory requirements), integrating affordable housing into Department of Transportation programs, and including land use within the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s investment priorities. These actions build on strategies that the Administration has called on Congress to pass such as establishing a grant program to “help states and localities eliminate needless barriers to affordable housing production” and creating a mandatory spending proposal to provide billions of dollars in grants to reward states and localities that have taken action to reduce affordable housing barriers.
  • Pilot new financing mechanisms for housing production and preservation where financing gaps currently exist. Immediate action will include supporting production and availability of manufactured housing (including with chattel loans that the majority of manufactured housing purchasers rely on), accessory dwelling units, 2-4 unit properties, and smaller multifamily buildings.
  • Expand and improve existing forms of federal financing, including for affordable multifamily development and preservation. Immediate actions include strengthening Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac financing for multifamily development and rehabilitation by “making Construction to Permanent loans (where one loan finances the construction but is also a long-term mortgage) more widely available by exploring the feasibility of Fannie Mae purchase of these loans.” The Administration also plans to promote the use of state, local, and Tribal government American Rescue Plan recovery funds to increase affordable housing supply; finalize the Low Income Housing Tax Credit “Income Averaging” proposed rule, whereby developers commit to creating affordable housing for households that meet specific income thresholds; reauthorize and update guidance for the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, which provides grants to states and localities that communities use to fund a range of housing activities; and improve “the alignment of federal funds to reduce transaction costs and duplications and accelerate development” by having the White House, HUD, Treasury, and USDA “convene state housing agencies to discuss best practices on the alignment of applications, reviews, and funding.”
  • Preserve the availability of affordable single-family homes for owner-occupants by ensuring that more government-owned homes and other housing goes to owners who will live in them or mission-driven entities instead of large investors. The Administration will also encourage the use of CDBG for local acquisition and local sales to owner-occupants and mission-driven entities.
  • Address supply chain disruptions by working with the private sector to address challenges. The Administration will also promote modular, panelized, and manufactured housing, as well as construction research and development to increase housing productivity and supply.

“Rising housing costs have burdened families of all incomes, with a particular impact on low- and moderate-income families, and people and communities of color,” the Administration stressed, noting that it has urged Congress to pass investments in housing production and preservation. The Administration’s 2023 budget includes investments that would lead to production or rehabilitation of another 500,000 homes.