NEARLY 15 YEARS AFTER A major report on regulatory barriers to affordable housing, a new study from HUD reveals that outdated, unnecessary governmental regulations continue to thwart efforts to build decent housing for working families.

The new report, “Why Not in Our Community?”, cites excessive regulation as a “crucial obstacle to achieving the national goal of increased homeownership.” Plus, the regulations force families to live long distances from good-paying jobs, lowering their quality of life with lengthy commutes, the report says.

Regulatory missteps cited include misuse of smart-growth principles, impact fees beyond the actual costs of the needed infrastructure, and obsolete building codes.

The study also reports that many governmental agencies are working to cut the red tape—and the costs—that regularly adds thousands of dollars to the cost of housing. Plus, for the first time, HUD is reviewing its own regulations for their impact on affordable housing.

Urban Land Institute Senior Fellow John McIlwain says, while the lists are comprehensive, the report is little more than political posturing as the administration is poised to cut HUD's funding, and that HUD's own actions are “more suggestive of bureaucratic reshuffling than results.”

“Having worked in Washington for almost 30 years now ... I've seen this move more times than once. I think it is just a political document for the current budget season to show they are doing things despite a lack of programs and funds.”