Growing pains are something I’ve become familiar with given my background in medicine. They’re also something I’m becoming familiar with in a different context — housing. Not always bad, growing pains often result in positive change.
Due to President Trump’s economic policies, our urban areas are experiencing tremendous growth. Young people are flocking to our cities, entrepreneurs are creating more jobs, and technology is making it easier to stay connected with loved ones. This growth is good, but it is rarely pain free.
The urban growing pains we see today are causing disruptions, especially in housing. In many high-cost areas of our country, the shift in housing trends has been a contributor to an affordable housing crisis. Housing within budget is scarce and the limited public housing properties available in major cities need repair. No coast nor state is immune.
Fortunately, there are exciting developments to overcome these challenges. Innovators, entrepreneurs, philanthropic organizations, faith communities and government at every level are engaged on this issue.
Churches are creating affordable housing by selling their air rights or building affordable multifamily developments on unused land. Communities are launching projects, such as The BLOCK Project in Seattle, to change zoning laws and house homeless neighbors.
State and local governments are working together to examine outdated regulations so more affordable housing developments can be built in high opportunity areas. Innovators are creating new technologies and materials that drive down the cost of building a home and working with local planning commissions for approvals.
The Trump Administration has acted to incentivize the development of more housing. A new tax provision signed into law through the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act created Opportunity Zones in more than 8,700 distressed economic areas across the country. This tax incentive will bring long-term private capital to communities for both housing development and job creation.
The federal government is also committed to finding innovating solutions to protect existing affordable housing stock. Several years ago, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimated the cost of repairing our deteriorating public housing stock and the price tag was a staggering $26 billion! In response, HUD created a public-private partnership called the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) to help tackle this backlog by moving public housing properties to other funding platforms, and this partnership has proven to be extremely successful.
Last fall, we crossed an important threshold by announcing that the RAD program has preserved 100,000 public housing units. These are homes that otherwise would have been lost from our affordable housing supply forever. Not only is this program saving homes, it also has generated nearly $6 billion in construction investment and created over 108,000 jobs.
Public-private partnerships like Opportunity Zones and RAD are proven tools we must continue using to tackle our country’s affordable housing issues. We are seeing promising partnerships already.
If we continue to work together, we can make major strides in remedying these affordable housing pains that have accompanied our country’s impressive economic growth. At HUD we are committed to continue working with affordable housing thought leaders to expand opportunity for all Americans, regardless of the numbers that make up their paycheck or their zip code.
Dr. Ben Carson, U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, [email protected]