WASHINGTON, D.C. - McPherson Mayor Tom Brown recently traveled to Washington D.C. to participate in a roundtable hosted by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson, focusing on Housing Affordability.
Many communities in Kansas and across the U.S. face a shortage of affordable housing. Secretary Carson has worked to remove burdens that drive up the cost of housing as well as share best practices to allow communities to learn from one another.
Brown spoke during the roundtable about the adverse effects federal regulations can have on local housing projects, specifically the Davis Bacon Act, which adds to construction costs by mandating prevailing wages for any project involving federal dollars.
He also shared the success McPherson has seen with its Land Bank program in providing opportunities for affordable housing development.
“McPherson has a City Land Bank,” Brown said. “We have two housing incentives for single family homes. Any city could sell land not being used by local government and use the proceeds of such sales for housing incentives and/or down payment assistance especially low to moderate income families.”
Additionally, roundtable participants discussed the need to simplify financial forms and the mortgage process, both of which have become burdensome and disqualify families for minor reasons, leaving fewer potential buyers for new housing projects.
Brown said following his visit to D.C., the city will also review its permitting process to find ways to both shorten and simplify the process, something he hopes other community leaders will consider as well.
U.S. Congressman Roger Marshall, M.D. said the lack of affordable housing is an issue he hears about in nearly every community in his district. Burdensome regulations and an over-regulated banking industry both make it difficult for communities to develop new housing developments and attract qualified buyers to fill those homes. Having local officials share their stories and experiences helps federal agencies better understand the impacts their decisions have on communities.
“If we want families returning to our rural communities, we must have affordable and accessible housing in place,” said Rep. Marshall. “I applaud Mayor Brown and other local leaders across the U.S. are doing to find small but impactful ways to reduce the cost and regulatory burdens in the housing industry.”