House Passes YIMBY Act, Aimed At Spurring Affordable Housing Development
The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill that calls for changes by localities that promote high-density residential zoning and thus more affordable housing development.
The Yes In My Backyard Act, HB 4351 doesn't mandate any affordable housing development or zoning, it stipulates that places receiving block grants from the federal government track and report their pro-housing policies. It also encourages localities to allow manufactured housing in places zoned for single-family houses, the addition of duplexes in such places, and to make other pro-affordable housing changes.
The bill comes at a time of affordable housing agitation, with advocates calling for a litany of measures to deal with the problem, including unprecedented federal intervention in the form of national rent control. There is a shortage of 7 million affordable housing units nationwide, the National Low Income Housing Coalition reports.
For its part, the Trump administration cites regulatory constraints, such as restrictive zoning, building codes and impact fees, as obstacles to affordable housing development.
The YIMBY Act had bipartisan support in Congress' lower chamber, with Washington Democratic Rep. Denny Heck and Indiana Republican Rep. Trey Hollingsworth as its sponsors. To become law, the measure needs to be approved by the U.S. Senate and signed by President Donald Trump, which is likely a tall task in a presidential election year.
"Sunlight is the best disinfectant, and we need to identify and reduce barriers to housing construction at the local level," Heck said in a statement.
The bill has considerable support among real estate industry organizations, including the Mortgage Bankers Association, the National Association of Home Builders, the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts and the National Multifamily Housing Council.
Legislators in a number of states are proposing affordable housing measures of their own. In California, where the affordable housing crunch is severe, state Sen. Scott Wiener introduced a bill on Friday to ease zoning restrictions with the goal of increased affordable housing production.
The Utah Senate recently passed a bill that would add $15M to a state housing fund that offers low-interest loans to affordable housing developers, and in Florida, lawmakers agreed to fully fund affordable housing programs this year, to the tune of $370M, from a fund dedicated to that purpose that is sometimes used for other state programs.