Connecting state and local government leaders
Through the competitive grant program, state and local governments can address some of the obstacles to expanding affordable housing.
The barriers to affordable housing developments are as broad and diverse as the communities navigating them. Last week, the Biden administration announced the availability of $85 million to help these cities and states develop and implement policies that create and preserve affordable housing.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said Thursday that it will award up to $10 million in competitive grants to communities through its new Pathways to Removing Obstacles to Housing program. The funds can be used to reform land use policy, streamline permitting and improve the quality of existing affordable housing, among other approaches.
States, cities and municipal planning organizations can apply for the grants. The funding will go to recipients that are already actively working to eliminate barriers like outdated zoning policies, slow-moving development procedures and dwindling housing stock caused by the expiration of affordability requirements. The program prioritizes communities with acute affordable housing shortages, such as areas where the population is growing at a faster pace than affordable housing stock or where a significant share of households devote more than 30% of their income on housing costs.
Eligible uses for the funds are meant to be flexible enough to accommodate urban, suburb and rural communities and can go toward efforts like bolstering community resilience in the face of climate change, creating transit-oriented development zones and incentivizing the conversion of commercial or vacant properties into residential developments.
The program is part of the Biden administration’s Housing Supply Action Plan, which aims to boost the supply and quality of affordable housing nationwide and reward communities that reform outdated housing policies. Those legacy, restrictive policies, such as single-family zoning, minimum lot requirements and parking requirements typically reduce housing density, perpetuate long-standing patterns of racial and class segregation and can slow efforts to develop climate-friendly communities.
The application deadline for the grant is Oct. 30.
Advocates with the American Planning Association, an organization for urban planners, lauded the program’s announcement on X, formerly know as Twitter, calling it a “major new incentive and support for locally led reform.” The association plans to offer guidance to communities interested in applying for grants and learning how to best leverage the funds.
The department also announced last week the availability of $10 million in new funding for HUD-assisted properties to give tenants the resources to improve and preserve their communities.
The tenants’ rights movement has been gaining steam since the pandemic, when a combination of job loss and rising housing costs pushed many to worry about the stability of their living situation. HUD’s Tenant Education and Outreach program aims to foster healthy relationships between tenants and property managers, ensure proper oversight and management of HUD-assisted properties, and provide tenants with the tools they need to advocate for safe, sanitary and affordable housing.
“Today, we are acting to increase the supply of affordable housing, which is crucial to lowering housing costs,” Secretary Marcia L. Fudge said in a statement. “We look forward to continuing this work in partnership with local communities.”