Trump forms White House council to ease barriers to affordable housing

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WASHINGTON — President Trump signed an executive order Tuesday establishing a White House council dedicated to examining regulatory barriers to affordable housing in what it said is an attempt to address the rising costs of homeownership.

The White House Council on Eliminating Barriers to Affordable Housing will consist of members from eight federal agencies, including the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Treasury Department, and will be chaired by HUD Secretary Ben Carson.

Members of the council will be responsible for engaging with state and local stakeholders to study and reduce zoning regulations that some claim are responsible for the skyrocketing cost of housing, as well as reviewing federal regulations. The group will also make policy recommendations and compile a report on the impact of government barriers to housing supply and the broader economy.

“Increasing the supply of housing by removing overly burdensome rules and regulations will reduce housing costs, boost economic growth, and provide more Americans with opportunities for economic mobility,” Carson said in a press release.

Key Trump administration officials, including Carson and Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mark Calabria, have complained about burdensome local regulations, claiming they are to blame for the nationwide shortage of housing and rising home prices.

“One of the biggest factors driving prices up and dragging supply down is the accumulation of burdensome government mandates and fees, zoning and land-use restrictions, environmental regulations, building codes and permitting requirements," Calabria said at an event earlier this month.

The executive order was immediately applauded by several key industry stakeholders, including Robert Broeksmit, the president and CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association.

“Housing affordability is an issue affecting millions of Americans, and we believe the public and private sectors must work together on solutions that ensure those looking to rent or buy a home are given every available opportunity,” Broeksmit said in a statement.

John Smaby, the president of the National Association of Realtors, also highlighted the slow growth of household incomes, which he argued has exacerbated increasingly expensive home prices.

“Today, despite historic economic growth and recovery, misguided regulations and gaps in new home constructions have stopped far too many Americans from purchasing a home,” Smaby said in a statement. “We look forward to continuing to work closely with the White House to ensure the American Dream remains attainable for all those who seek to become homeowners.”

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Affordable housing Housing affordability Home prices Policymaking Donald Trump Ben Carson Mark Calabria HUD Treasury Department