Biden Aims to 'Eliminate' State and Local Zoning Laws That Exclude Affordable Housing

By Susan Jones | April 1, 2021 | 11:51am EDT
A suburban home in wealthy New Canaan, Connecticut. Many homes in the town are large and built on acres of privately owned land. (Photo by Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images)
A suburban home in wealthy New Canaan, Connecticut. Many homes in the town are large and built on acres of privately owned land. (Photo by Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) - "There is a severe shortage of affordable housing options in America," says a White House fact sheet explaining what's in President Biden's $2.5 trillion jobs/infrastructure plan -- part one of a two-part plan.

"Millions of families pay more than half their income on rent, and home energy costs are a significant concern for American renters as well. And, across the country, people are struggling to purchase their first home," the blurb says.

Biden wants to spend $213 billion to "produce, preserve and retrofit more than two million affordable and sustainable places to live."

And he aims to place some of those affordable places to live in suburbs deemed "exclusionary."

Biden's plan calls for an "innovative new approach to eliminate state and local exclusionary zoning laws, which...keep families from moving to neighborhoods with more opportunities for them and their kids."

The fact sheet goes on to describe this zoning plan in two sentences, as follows:

Eliminate exclusionary zoning and harmful land use policies. For decades, exclusionary zoning laws -- like minimum lot sizes, mandatory parking requirements, and prohibitions on multifamily housing -- have inflated housing and construction costs and locked families out of areas with more opportunities.

President Biden is calling on Congress to enact an innovative, new competitive grant program that awards flexible and attractive funding to jurisdictions that take concrete steps to eliminate such needless barriers to producing affordable housing.

President Donald Trump warned about this in blunt terms during the 2020 campaign, when he rescinded an Obama-era rule called "Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing."

That 2015 rule explained that affirmatively furthering fair housing “means taking meaningful actions, in addition to combating discrimination, that overcome patterns of segregation and foster inclusive communities free from barriers that restrict access to opportunity..."

In other words, find ways to build more affordable housing in wealthier communities to decrease "disparities in access to opportunity."

Biden also wants Congress to spend $40 billion to repair and improve public housing.

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