President Biden’s administration has launched new efforts to boost the nation’s housing supply and lower costs. The White House announced last week that it is kicking off a first-of-its-kind program through HUD called Pathways to Removing Obstacles to Housing, or PRO Housing. The $85 million program gives communities funding to pinpoint and remove barriers to affordable housing development and preservation. That can include funding toward planning and policy that allows for higher-density zoning and rezoning areas to allow multifamily and mixed-use development. The HUD funding can also be used toward infrastructure projects that would be necessary in order to preserve or develop more housing. Other parts of the efforts by the administration include a commercial-to-residential conversion initiative by government agencies to identify and help support more conversions of commercial properties into housing across the country.
The new efforts announced by the White House are welcome news for the real estate industry and the millions of Americans in need of affordable housing. Across the country, there is a shortage of 7.3 million rental homes that are affordable and available to rental households with extremely low incomes, according to the National Low-Income Housing Coalition. The lack of supply of affordable housing is expected to decline further over the next few years, according to leading multifamily developers. As the issue has become more pressing, there has been more attention paid to the problem from local and state governments, and President Biden’s administration last year released a five-year Housing Supply Action Plan aiming to help close the housing supply gap. Though there’s still a long way to go in tackling the issue, this latest effort at the federal level to cut down on zoning and land use barriers is an important step in increasing the housing supply.