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HUD Issues $3.8 Million In Funding Opportunities To Research Ways To Boost Inventory

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on Friday announced a series of funding opportunities totaling roughly $3.86 million, which will go toward organizations aiming to boost housing inventory and availability through methods including off-site construction and office-to-residential conversions.

“As we’re seeing more and more, our nation’s housing stock does not meet the needs of our growing country,” said HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge in a statement announcing the Notices of Funding Opportunity (NOFOs). “We need to think creatively, from innovative construction methods to office-to-residential conversions. Today’s announcement will spur the innovation needed to build more affordable, safe, and sustainable housing in our communities.”

The lion’s share of the funding opportunities will go to the Offsite Construction and Land Use Reform NOFO, which awarded $3 million to 10 institutions that will research ways to “assess the potential for off-site construction methods and zoning and land use reforms to increase the supply of quality affordable housing and reduce housing expenses for low- and moderate-income owners and renters,” HUD said.

The Office to Residential Conversions NOFO awarded $858,261 to study “recent efforts to convert downtown office buildings to properties with residential units since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to the announcement.

“The widening gap between housing supply and demand has driven up housing costs and constrained affordable choices for low-and moderate-income families.” said Solomon Greene, principal deputy assistant secretary for policy development and research at HUD. “We know that state and local leaders are at the forefront of innovative solutions, including using innovative construction technologies, adopting pro-housing zoning and land use reforms, and converting underutilized office and commercial buildings to housing.”

These awards will ideally help HUD to “fill critical knowledge gaps, test pilots and new innovations, and share best practices in each of the areas,” Greene added.

HUD has limited authority to impact state or local zoning laws, but state legislators have increasingly looked at changing zoning provisions to better accommodate the construction of affordable housing units. In Washington State, for instance, state lawmakers last year passed a bill that would lift the zoning restrictions on certain types of multifamily properties, called “middle housing,” in areas zoned for single-family housing.

But federal lawmakers are also feeling pressure from voters to act on housing issues. Recently, lawmakers in the Senate and House announced plans to address issues of housing supply and affordability with new legislation.

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