The White House is making public a "tool kit" on housing policy that, while not carrying the force of law, is using the bully pulpit to cajole states and municipalities to cut through much of the red tape, regulation and community resistance that retards development of affordable housing.

"The accumulation of state and local barriers to housing development – including zoning, other land use regulations, and unnecessarily lengthy development approval processes – has reduced the ability of many housing markets to respond to growing demand," the Housing Development Toolkit states. "The increasing severity of under-supplied housing markets is jeopardizing housing affordability for working families, exacerbating income inequality by reducing workers’ access to higher-wage labor markets, and stifling GDP growth by driving labor migration away from the most productive regions."

The Administration urges local governments to consider these changes, among others:

  •  Establishing by-right development.
  •  Taxing vacant land or donate it to non-profit developer.s
  •  Streamlining or shortening permitting processes and time lines.
  •  Eliminate off-street parking requirements.
  •  Allowing accessory dwelling units.
  •  Establishing density bonuses.
  •  Enacting high-density and multifamily zoning.
  •  Employing inclusionary zoning.
  •  Establishing development tax or value capture incentive.s
  •  Using property tax abatements.

The white paper outlining the tool kit uses examples of cities and programs that have successfully promoted affordable development.

"As fewer families have been able to find affordable housing in the regions with the best jobs for them, labor mobility has slowed, exacerbating income inequality and stifling our national economic growth," states the paper. "But this hasn’t happened everywhere. In more and more regions across the country, local and neighborhood leaders have said yes, in our backyard, we need to break down the rules that stand in the way of building new housing – because we want new development to replace vacant lots and rundown zombie properties, we want our children to be able to afford their first home, we want hardworking families to be able to take the next job on their ladder of opportunity, and we want our community to be part of the solution in reducing income inequality and growing the economy nationwide."