The Real Deal New York

HUD is looking to make big changes to
fair-housing enforcement

Department wants to use grants to negotiate for less restrictive zoning
August 13, 2018 11:30AM

The Robert C. Weaver Federal Building in Washington, D.C. and Ben Carson (Credit: Wikipedia and Getty Images)

The Trump administration wants to use federal grants as leverage to get communities to reconsider their zoning codes to allow for more housing development.

It’s a shift in policy at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which under the Obama administration focused on integrating lower-income housing into wealthy neighborhoods, the Wall Street Journal reported.

HUD Secretary Ben Carson said restrictive zoning rules have limited home construction, thus driving up prices and making it more difficult for low-income families to afford homes.

He wants to use infrastructure grants from his department that communities use to build roads, sewers, bridges and other projects as a tool to negotiate for less restrictive zoning.

“I would incentivize people who really would like to get a nice juicy government grant” to revisit their zoning codes, he said.

“I want to encourage the development of mixed-income multifamily dwellings all over the place,” Carson added.

The change in policy is expected to undo one of Obama’s signature accomplishments at HUD, which turned to computer technology to make it easier for communities to comply with fair-housing rules.

But local officials in some parts of the country criticized the process, saying it was expensive and that the government was forcing them to place low-cost rental buildings in wealthy neighborhoods.

Carson was the subject of some criticism earlier this year when he spent $31,000 on a new dining room set for his Washington, D.C., office. In March, he proposed raising the amount low-income families receiving federal subsidies pay in rent and making it easier for property owners to impose work requirements. [WSJ] – Rich Bockmann