In addition to a series of announcements this week by the White House and multiple federal agencies designed to proactively assist renters, the Biden administration is also aiming to promote methods to improve housing supply across the U.S.
Such initiatives include changing certain zoning laws, financing more affordable and energy-efficient housing units and funding research on the topic of commercial-to-residential conversions.
In this week’s series of initial announcements, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced “an $85 million first-of-its-kind competitive [Pathways to Removing Obstacles to Housing (PRO Housing)] funding opportunity for jurisdictions and new guidance for providers of affordable housing will help communities address local housing challenges,” the department said.
The White House detailed more of the intention behind PRO Housing, saying that it “will provide communities with funding to identify and remove barriers to affordable housing production and preservation.” HUD will award grants of up to $10 million to jurisdictions that have an “acute demand for affordable housing and are working to identify, address, or remove barriers to housing production and preservation.”
Also a part of this broader initiative is an announcement earlier this month by the U.S. Department of Transportation, aimed more squarely at existing zoning law.
“[USDOT’s] Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhoods (RCN) program will provide up to $3.16 billion for planning and capital construction projects that prioritize disadvantaged communities and improve access to daily destinations,” the White House explained. “This includes improving connections to affordable housing, fostering equitable development, and increasing housing supply through zoning reform.”
The White House also announced a new initiative from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a $27 billion Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF) “which will mobilize private capital and provide financing for thousands of clean energy projects, including cost-saving retrofits of existing homes and buildings, construction of zero emissions buildings, and commercial to residential conversions, among others,” the White House said.
Other recent initiatives cited by the administration include the publication of guidance from HUD designed to offer greater flexibility for lenders when underwriting multifamily transactions up to $120 million; additional streamlining of requirements for accessory dwelling units (ADUs) first announced in April; and employ federal funding to facilitate more commercial-to-residential conversions.
“The White House will lead a new interagency working group to develop and advance federal funding opportunities that support the conversion of commercial properties to housing, and leverage climate-focused federal resources to create zero emissions and affordable units,” the administration said.
The White House also reiterated the availability of new research funding designed to analyze office-to-residential conversions.