Editorial
 
 


I firmly believe that the vast majority of politicians, from the city level to the federal government, 
don’t have a clue about how all the various components of the construction industry work together 
to complete a project.  Nor do they understand the vast amount of time and money spent trying to 
comply with meaningless and contradictory regulations and ordinances.  OK, so maybe they do 
understand, they just don’t want to admit it.
	
These conflicting attitudes are readily apparent when it comes to the subject of affordable housing.  
Politicians will play to the crowd when speaking of how we need more affordable housing, yet see no conflict in the increasing of fees, regulations, and requirements placed on housing projects.  When it’s pointed out that these additional fees and requirements are increasing home prices, they talk about the small increase in fees as being minor costs in the overall picture.  
	
Fees and regulations have become a major portion of the cost of a new home.  While their latest increase may be small, the cumulative effect is not.  Additionally, while fees and costly regulations continue to rise, so do other factors affecting the cost of a new home.
	
As has been discussed by several national associations, interest rates, high land and production costs will continue to push the cost of housing beyond the means of many American families, and a disproportionate share of the blame for today’s sky-high prices goes to misguided local government policies.
	
The current economic and demographic conditions are constraining homeownership, as well as the need to educate consumers and to provide financial services that meet the needs of low- and moderate-income families. 
	
In addition to interest rates, several components of housing production are driving up the cost of housing, and a surprising number of them are coming from the government:
• Restrictive zoning.  Large lot requirements are a guarantee of higher land costs and fewer homes in a given development.
• Inclusionary zoning.  This policy is the government’s way of assigning full responsibility for housing affordability to the housing industry and also drives up the cost of housing for those families buying unsubsidized units in a development.
• Impact fees and exactions.  Gold-plated infrastructure requirements push up the cost of housing and force new homebuyers to pay for public goods that benefit the entire community.
• Excessive open space mandates.  Open space is great, but it needs to be part of a comprehensive plan and balanced against the need for housing in the community.
	
Local politicians can make a difference when it comes to affordable housing.  It involves an attitude change; from viewing a housing development as a cash-cow, to looking at the project as a means to help improve the quality of life in their community.

Marcus Dodson
editor & publisher
Affordable Housing
The Conflict Between Taxing 
Projects & Building Affordable Homes