JUNE IS NATIONAL HOME-ownership Month, drawing public attention to issues surrounding affordable housing—issues with which the home building industry is keenly familiar. Everyone in the residential construction industry knows that there are numerous and varied barriers to keeping housing affordable, including exactions, permit processing delays, and no-growth attitudes from many communities and their legislators. Subdivision requirements can be another obstacle that stands in the way of fulfilling the American dream of home-ownership for millions of low-and moderate-income families.

The NAHB Research Center is conducting a study for HUD to determine the extent to which subdivision requirements act as barriers to affordable housing. The following are examples of subdivision requirements that could significantly affect the cost of development:

  • Street and sidewalk standards
  • Minimum lot sizes
  • Maximum block lengths
  • Drainage requirements
  • Building setbacks
  • Parking standards
  • Landscaping requirements
  • The purpose of this project is to conduct a national assessment of subdivision controls as a regulatory barrier to affordable housing. “This study is essential to gather meaningful data that affects builders and their customers, and that will serve as the basis for additional barrier-related research by HUD and others,” according to Rich Dooley, project analyst and land use planner at the NAHB Research Center.

    The Research Center will conduct the study in phases through 2006. With the assistance of the NAHB and its membership, the data collection phase will take place from April to December 2005, focusing on local subdivision regulations across the nation. The sample set of locales was created by using specific statistical criteria to create a randomly selected, nationally representative sample of communities. An analysis and reporting phase is expected to begin in early 2006. For information on this study, please contact Rich Dooley at the NAHB Research Center at rdooley@nahbrc.org.