As the demand for affordable rental housing increases and budgets tighten, it’s more common than ever for developers and owners to work with several federal agencies in order to house the lowest-income tenants. But, when a development is funded by more than one federal program, owners must comply with multiple – even redundant – regulations and a host of extra paperwork. There is good reason to be thorough; because federal agencies are entrusted with administering taxpayer dollars, it’s important that agencies oversee the projects and ensure that owners are meeting each program’s requirements. However, because resources are scarce, eliminating duplicative inspections and burdensome regulations would actually save taxpayer dollars and ensure that owners can focus on providing effective and critical services to those most in need.
That is why on November 7th, 2011, the Obama Administration announced that six states – Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Minnesota, Washington and Oregon – were selected to test new approaches to reducing regulatory burdens on affordable housing developers. Officials in Wisconsin and Michigan signed agreements to eliminate unnecessary physical inspections at rental housing projects subsidized through more than housing agency, saving scarce local, state, and federal resources and reducing a significant burden on affordable housing operators and low-income tenants.
The pilot is a first step in the Obama Administration’s commitment to better coordinate federal rental policy. HUD, Treasury and USDA are part of the interagency Rental Policy Working Group established by the White House’s Domestic Policy Council in 2010. As part of its coordinated strategy, the Rental Policy Working Group has engaged state, local, and private stakeholders to identify administrative changes that could increase overall programmatic efficiency and further enhance the ability of communities to create and preserve affordable housing.
In a press call for reporters today, HUD Senior Advisor David Lipsetz said that “This initiative is an important step forward in the administration’s desire to streamline government policies and build strong inter-agency partnerships to serve the American public as cost-effectively and efficiently as possible. It is an excellent example of HUD partnering with federal and state agencies to eliminate burdensome requirements and provide seamless coordination for our customers.”
USDA Rural Development’s Rural Housing Service Administrator Tammye Treviño said, “Any time we not only improve the efficiency of a government process, but also reduce the burden on our property owners and developers – that’s a success. USDA Rural Development is proud to make this agreement with our colleagues at Housing and Urban Development, for we know that reducing duplication between our agencies frees up time and resources that we can better spend providing affordable housing to those who need it most.”
In 2009, HUD, USDA and state housing finance agencies performed close to 24,000 separate inspections on approximately 11,000 properties. If successful, this effort could eliminate up to 13,000 unnecessary inspections, or more than half of total inspections on jointly funded projects. Preliminary estimates suggest this could save local, state, and federal taxpayers as much as $30 million per year.
For more information on these efforts and the draft recommendations produced by the Rental Policy Working Group, visit www.huduser.org.