Federal, state and local government actions affect affordable housing
Let’s be honest, not everyone shares the same concerns about affordable housing. There are the people who don’t want new residential developments in their neighborhood because it will affect their slow and serene lifestyles, and there are others who are identified as the NIMBYs – the Not in My Backyard group. The common thread between these two groups is that they are the ones who value the safety and security of a home they own.
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Many homeowners do not want affordable housing in their neighborhood; however, a large number of essential workers live in these new housing developments. Despite the whims of those who do not want new homes in their neighborhoods, the COVID-19 pandemic has taught this country a valuable lesson – we need these essential workers.
Activists will continue to fill local county boardrooms complaining about housing developments, and yet these are the same people who also expect essential services like police, firefighters, schools. and local and readily available retail associates.
Unless these anti-affordable housing activists expect workers to live in cars or travel long distances daily, this region, along with the rest of the country, must start responding to the urgent need for affordable housing. .
While supporters on both sides like to blame those in Washington, DC, for all affordable housing problems, the problems are more frequently created by the local government than by the federal government.
Yes, the federal government controls interest rates, the ability to lend and promote affordable housing, as well as regulatory issues like OSHA and the environment; however, the federal government has been very good with historically low interest rates and the availability of hundreds of millions of dollars for low interest loans for affordable housing.
In fact, the Biden administration, in their rebuilding plan, is trying to advocate for a national affordable housing program because President Biden believes that is how you increase middle class wealth.
Environmental and worker regulations have minor impacts on affordable housing; However, most Americans agree that workers should be kept safe on the job and the environment should not be destroyed.
The state of Florida needs improvements in the promotion of affordable housing. The biggest problem in this state is the overcoding of construction and development that forces every house to be built to the same quality.
The codes for a $ 200,000 house are the same as for a $ 2 million house. In short, you can’t build a good, better, or structurally better house in Florida. In addition, every two years the construction bureaucracy adds more codes that further increase housing costs.
The other problem is that the state-mandated affordable housing finance through Sadowski Law, which is privately funded through every real estate transaction, has been raided almost every year and, since 2000, more than 2 billions of dollars have been diverted from affordable housing. This lack of funding over the past two decades is one of the main reasons there is little affordable housing in the state.
Local governments create the biggest barriers with affordable housing by continually increasing the impact and fees for building permits, as well as charging large sums for utility connections. Additionally, they manipulate comprehensive land plans and approvals to discourage new developments that could help provide affordable housing.
On top of that, there are the systemic issues such as long approval times for new projects and delayed inspections once projects have started. Most local jurisdictions seek to deny new projects in the hope of discouraging development. Whether it’s trying to double impact fees or demanding super majorities from the commission to approve changes to the comprehensive land plan, local government is the government’s worst affordable housing problem.
Many want to believe that the greed of builders, contractors and suppliers is the housing problem; instead, government greed in the form of additional fees and regulations is the biggest problem with affordable housing.
If something does not change quickly, essential services for all those who oppose affordable housing will be cut. The first step in correcting the affordable housing crisis in the United States is to eliminate government excesses.
Don Magruder is the CEO of Ro-Mac Lumber & Supply, Inc., and he is also the host of the “Around the House” show which can be seen on AroundtheHouse.TV.