HUD’s Investment in Affordable Housing

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has awarded nearly $4 million to 11 grantees to support research that will fill crucial knowledge gaps and help build the evidence base to accelerate the adoption of innovative and effective practices and policies to increase the production and supply of quality, affordable housing. This includes exploring office-to-residential conversions, to help communities meet their housing needs.

“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 L. Fudge. “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 Offsite Construction and Land Use Reform Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) awarded a total of $3 million to 10 institutions to conduct research 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.

The Office to Residential Conversions Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) awarded a total of $858,261.91 to study recent efforts to convert downtown office buildings to properties with residential units since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“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. “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. With these research awards, HUD aims to fill critical knowledge gaps, test pilots and new innovations, and share best practices in each of the areas.”

These awards, and the insights they will yield, are a key part of the Biden Administration’s Housing Supply Action Plan. They also build upon the research needs that are identified in the Off-Site Construction for Housing: Research Roadmap, which can help overcome the barriers and challenges of off-site construction.

In October, the Biden Administration released “Commercial to Residential Conversion: A Guidebook to Available Federal Resources,” an overview of the wide array of federal programs, loans, grants, guarantees, and tax incentives available to support commercial to residential conversions.

Offsite Construction and Land Use Reform Notice of Funding Opportunity awardees include:

  • The National Institute of Building Sciences was awarded $499,878 to partner with six HUD regions to design pilot programs that will both identify regional barriers to the adoption of off-site construction and develop strategic plans for off-site construction growth. These regional pilots will serve as the basis for a pilot handbook to spur other regions to foster off-site construction capacity and encourage uptake.
  • The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) was awarded $458,340 to study the impact of accessory dwelling unit (ADU) legalization and production in California on rents and prices, as well as to assess how legalization changes land values even for parcels that do not exercise the new development option.
  • The University of California, Irvine (UCI), was awarded $343,244 to study the impact of California’s state-level reforms aimed at mitigating regulatory barriers obstructing the development of accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in the context of affirmatively furthering fair housing (AFFH).
  • The Urban Institute was awarded $263,874 to leverage its housing market forecast model to examine the interplay between local zoning reforms and their impact on housing costs and segregation.
  • Purdue University was awarded $263,847 to study the role of building codes as a land-use restriction. The goal of the research is to provide greater clarity for state and local governments in determining how proposed revisions to the International Building Code and International Code Council would impact new supply and affordability in their jurisdictions.
  • Louisiana State University (LSU) was awarded $263,650.42 to conduct a life-cycle cost analysis of disaster-resilient affordable housing and identify improvements to the manufacturing and siting process of elevated, wind-resilient manufactured homes that could enable greater adoption of these homes, particularly in disaster-prone and underserved communities.
  • The Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) was awarded $263,544.87 will examine the impact of local barriers on the placement of manufactured homes and propose necessary regulatory reforms to address these constraints.
  • Washington State University (WSU) was awarded $226,756.05 to focus on modular construction methods; specifically, this project aims to develop and demonstrate the design of modular mass timber hybrid construction to offer a solution that is more sustainable, affordable, and equitable for housing in the United States.
  • ADL Ventures was awarded $219,143 to study the financing of industrialized off-site construction and identify ways to increase the industry’s access to capital.
  • Lehigh University was awarded $196,722.42 to conduct a qualitative survey of ADU ordinances, cataloging best practices, design guidelines, pre-approved plans, and other financial incentives that contributed to the successful implementation of ADU reforms in small-to-medium-sized municipalities.

The lone Office to Residential Conversions Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) awardee included:

  • M. Arthur Gensler Jr. & Associates Inc. was awarded $858,261.91 to conduct a study that will analyze office to residential conversion activities in six cities, test the financial feasibility of these conversions, study policies and incentives, and build an online community guide to allow local policymakers to estimate the impact of potential conversion policies on their community.

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Eric C. Peck

Eric C. Peck

Eric C. Peck has 25-plus years’ experience covering the mortgage industry, most recently serving as Editor-in-Chief for National Mortgage Professional Magazine. He graduated from the New York Institute of Technology, where he received his B.A. in Communication Arts/Media. After graduating, he began his professional career with Videography Magazine before landing in the mortgage space. Peck has edited three published books, and has served as Copy Editor for Entrepreneur.com.
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