Washington, DC — Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) unveiled a bill to holistically address America’s housing crisis by incentivizing innovation and community specific solutions. The Housing Innovation Act (H.R. 7054) would create a new Office of Housing Innovation at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to assist local governments in increasing and diversifying the housing supply, and creates grants to help communities plan for new housing.
“America is on the verge of a major housing crisis, especially in high-cost regions like the Bay Area. Working families in communities across the country have few affordable housing options within a reasonable distance to their workplace. The tradeoff becomes traveling great lengths to their jobs and spending hours stuck in traffic rather than with their families,” said Congressman DeSaulnier. “There is no one-size-fits-all solution to these challenges. This bill helps communities explore much-needed innovative housing solutions like expanding common amenities for a younger workforce, building accessory dwelling units—like basement apartments or converting garages into housing—and adapting one or several buildings into multiple housing units.”
Since 1960, renters’ median earnings have increased only 5 percent while rents have spiked 61 percent. At the same time, homeowners earn 50 percent more than in 1960, but home prices have skyrocketed by 112 percent. In the Bay Area the average rent reached more than $2,500 in 2016, and approximately half of renters were severely cost-burdened, paying more than 30 percent of their income on housing costs.
Under this bill, the new Office of Housing Innovation will administer three types of grants:
- Developing Local Housing Plans: For local housing plans that expand and diversify the housing supply, improve affordability, and reduce congestion.
- Furthering Research and Pilot Projects: For research and pilot projects led by partnerships involving at least one government, university, or nonprofit organization to explore improving the “first mile” and “last mile” commuting experience, housing college students, facilitating home sharing for elderly residents, integrating business and commercial activity with residential neighborhoods, and studying modular building techniques or other approaches to reducing housing costs.
- Improving Public Discussion: Grants for education activities to fund partnerships with at least one academic institution to further public discussion and education on housing and community development.