WASHINGTON – Today, Senator John Fetterman (D-PA) and Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE) introduced the Reducing Regulatory Barriers to Housing Act in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives, respectively. The legislation would empower local and state governments to address regulatory barriers to increasing the housing supply and decreasing costs by establishing new national frameworks and guidance. The bill is endorsed by over 115 supporting industry organizations and advocacy groups.

There is an estimated shortage of nearly four million housing units across the country, and 100,000 units in Pennsylvania alone, a critical undersupply that hurts economic development and perpetuates income inequality. The Reducing Regulatory Barriers to Housing Act will help communities tackle the zoning and land use regulations that make it harder or impossible to build housing that would meet demand, from “granny” flats to apartments, and drive down costs for everyone.  Establishing guidelines and frameworks for communities to use will address limited local capacity and provide needed strategic support. The bill also creates a grant program for localities to streamline housing development and would help communities address their complex land use rules by providing funds to digitize zoning codes at the zoning-district level.

Historically, zoning practices have been used to divide communities and concentrate poverty in under-resourced areas. By transforming our zoning regulations, more people would have access to affordable and diverse types of housing, high-paying jobs, and healthy and safe communities.

“We are facing a housing crisis in Pennsylvania and across the country. The housing supply simply doesn’t meet the need,” said Senator Fetterman. “We need to change that, but excessive regulatory red tape and overly burdensome and restrictive zoning requirements get in the way. This bill will address this persistent issue by providing capacity and technical assistance to support zoning reform efforts at the state and local level. I’m proud to co-lead it.”

“The affordable housing crisis must be met with action. In Delaware, there is a severe lack of affordable housing units while rent prices and homelessness only continue to rise. It’s why I’ve spent my time in Congress working to bring more resources to the First State to expand available housing units while lowering the cost of housing,” said Rep. Blunt Rochester. “The Reducing Regulatory Barriers to Housing Act builds on my work in Congress. It will ensure that states and localities have the investments and guidance they need to break down barriers in obtaining housing so more families can have a safe place to call home. I thank Senator Fetterman for joining me in introducing this critical legislation and look forward to working with colleagues to get the bill to the House floor for a vote.”

“Supporting legislation that empowers state and local governments with the resources, data, and innovative models they need to reform regulatory barriers is essential to solving the housing crisis,” said Mike Kingsella, CEO of Up for Growth Action. “These proactive measures will tip the scales in hundreds of communities who are eager to create more housing but need help getting started.”

“The nation confronts a growing housing crisis that demands greater housing diversity, affordability, and attainability,” said Angela Brooks, FAICP and President of the American Planning Association. “Planners are working on wide ranging local reforms and approaches to create a new foundation for getting the housing we need. APA is proud to endorse this critical legislation that will be instrumental in providing communities with tools, research, and insights to craft local solutions for accelerating housing supply and providing people with greater housing options and opportunities.”

“I applaud Senator Fetterman and Congresswoman Blunt Rochester for introducing legislation to provide states and localities with the best practices, guidance, and tools needed to reform zoning and land use barriers that restrict housing supply and drive up housing costs for everyone,” said Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. “While states and local communities are in the best position to increase overall housing supply – especially housing for middle-income families – the Reducing Regulatory Barriers to Housing Act would help the federal government provide much-needed support to these state and local efforts.”

“NAA commends Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester for introducing the Reducing Regulatory Barriers to Housing Act of 2024,” said Bob Pinnegar, President and CEO of the National Apartment Association. “This bill aims to help communities around the country address their housing needs by providing technical assistance and best practices to streamline land use policies that will catalyze new housing creation.  By adopting common data standards and sharing land use information, states and localities can improve decision-making and seek to address their localized housing needs as they deem most appropriate for their own jurisdiction.”

“Local land use regulations and zoning policies make it difficult to build desperately needed new housing,” said Katherine Levine Einstein, Ph.D., Associate Professor at Boston University’s Department of Political Science. “They are key drivers of high housing costs in many communities. The Reducing Regulatory Barriers to Housing Act will help state and local governments adopt effective policy solutions that streamline local building processes and remove exclusionary barriers to new housing.”

“The US has a persistent and widespread housing shortage that is hurting families, communities, businesses, and the economy,” said Jenny Schuetz, Ph.D., Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. “State and local governments alone can’t solve these housing challenges. The federal government has an important role to play in monitoring the health of housing markets, developing and testing innovative policy ideas, coordinating research and data collection, and providing support to states and localities.”

“The housing shortage is a national crisis—a crisis that has locked many millions of Americans out of homeownership,” said Nolan Gray, Research Director of California YIMBY. “This crisis is the inevitable result of a thicket of local regulations. The Reducing Regulatory Barriers to Housing Act will empower local state and local governments to cut back on red tape and get America building again.”

As a member of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, Senator Fetterman has prioritized addressing the housing crisis through his first year and a half in Congress. He previously introduced the bipartisan Whole-Home Repairs Act, that would scale a successful Pennsylvania program that helps homeowners and apartment owners afford critical home repairs to the national level. He also introduced the Keep Affordable Housing in Forgotten Communities Act, which would encourage plans for long-term housing affordability as part of the Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhoods grant program, ensuring that revitalizing efforts benefit longtime community members.

The Reducing Regulatory Barriers to Housing Act will fundamentally help remove barriers to building, accessing, and developing affordable housing in the United States. Specifically, the legislation would: 

Update and reimagine outdated zoning laws by:

Reversing decades of harmful zoning practices that were originally ordained by the federal government in the 1920s.

Supporting research to reimagine state and local zoning frameworks, making it easier to develop and provide diverse housing options in communities across the United States.

Empower local governments to address housing needs in their communities by:

Requiring the Department of Housing Development (HUD) to provide guidance to States and localities who request it on how to update their zoning laws. This will help encourage local entities to eliminate discriminatory practices and reduce barriers to building affordable housing.

Providing investments to assist local governments with the ability to overhaul their zoning codes. These investments will help directly with staff capacity, funding, and expertise to achieve zoning reforms.

Supporting the development of duplexes, triplexes, and other middle income housing options so more low-to-moderate income families have access to a place to call home.

Strengthening the likelihood of funding affordable housing projects thorough the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program, expediting and improving the process of approval for these projects.

Make zoning information easier to find by:

Creating a $3.5 million grant program for digitizing zoning codes. This makes zoning codes much easier to understand for those participating in the zoning process.

The Reducing Regulatory Barriers to Housing Act is endorsed by the following organizations and advocacy groups:  

American Planning Association (APA), Coalition for Home Repair (formerly ReFrame), Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU), Council for Affordable and Rural Housing (CARH), Council of Large Public Housing Authorities (CLPHA), Enterprise Community Partners, Grounded Solutions Network, Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI), Housing Assistance Council (HAC), Leading Builders of America, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), LOCUS: Responsible Real Estate Developers and Investors, National Affordable Housing Management Association (NAHMA), National Apartment Association (NAA), National Association of Affordable Housing Lenders (NAAHL), National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP), National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO), National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM), National Community Stabilization Trust (NCST), National Council of State Housing Agencies (NCSHA), National Housing Conference (NHC), National Housing Trust (NHT), National Leased Housing Association (NLHA), National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC), National NeighborWorks Association (NNA), National Rental Home Council, National Urban League (NUL), Prosperity Now, Smart Growth America, UnidosUS,  Up for Growth Action, (CU)rbanism Club (Champaign, IL), 15-Minute Fredericksburg, Abundant Housing Atlanta (Atlanta, Georgia), Abundant Housing Massachusetts (Massachusetts), American Planning Association Arkansas (Arkansas), American Planning Association Delaware (DE), American Planning Association Pennsylvania (Pennsylvania), American Planning Association Washington (Washington), Asheville for All (Asheville, North Carolina), Bay Area Council (San Francisco, California), Bend YIMBY (Bend, Oregon), Boise Valley Habitat for Humanity (Boise, Idaho), California YIMBY (California), CASA of Oregon (Oregon), Coalition for Nonprofit Housing and Economic Development (CNHED), Dallas Neighbors for Housing (Dallas, TX), DC YIMBYs (Washington, DC), East Bay YIMBY (Oakland, California), Evolve Tri-Valley (Pleasanton, CA), Fifth Avenue Committee (Brooklyn, New York), Gainesville is for People (Gainesville, FL), Georgia Advancing Communities Together, Inc. (Georgia), Greater Minnesota Housing Fund (Minnesota), Grow the Richmond (San Francisco, California), Habitat for Humanity of Minnesota (Minnesota), Habitat for Humanity of Northeast Michigan (Alpena, Michigan), Habitat for Humanity Seattle-King County (Seattle, Washington), Hawai’i YIMBY (Hawaii), HDC MidAtlantic (Lancaster, Pennsylvania), Home Forward (Portland, Oregon), Homes First (Olympia, Washington), Housing Action Coalition, Housing Association of Nonprofit Developers (HAND) (Washington, DC), Housing Now Nashville (Nashville, TN), How to ADU (California), Huntsville YIMBY (Huntsville, Alabama), Lighthouse MI (Pontiac, Michigan), Live TC (Traverse City, Michigan), Madison is for People (Madison, WI), Maine Affordable Housing Coalition (Maine), Michigan Association of Planners, More Homes Miami (Miami, Florida), Napa-Solano for Everyone (Napa, California), NEOurbanism (Cleveland, OH), Northern Neighbors (San Francisco, California), Northern Virginia Affordable Housing Alliance (Northern Virginia), Northwest Pilot Project (Portland, Oregon), Open New York (New York, New York), Orlando YIMBY (Orlando, Florida), Palmetto YIMBY (Palmetto, South Carolina), Pathways to Housing PA, Peninsula for Everyone (Mountain View, California), Progress Noe Valley (San Francisco, CA), Pro-Housing Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), QUIMBY, Real Estate Council of Austin (Austin, Texas), RUPCO, Inc. (Kingston, New York), RVA YIMBY (Richmond, Virginia), San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR) (San Francisco, California), San Francisco YIMBY (San Francisco, California), Santa Cruz YIMBY (Santa Cruz, California), Santa Rosa YIMBY (Santa Rosa, California), Seattle YIMBY (Seattle, Washington), Servants, Inc. (Red Lion, Pennsylvania), Sightline Institute (Seattle, Washington), SLOCo YIMBY (Templeton, California), South Bay YIMBY (San Jose, California), Southside Forward (San Francisco, California), Spokane Housing for All (Spokane, Washington), Streets for People (San Francisco, California), Tenderloin Housing Clinic (San Francisco, California), Tucson for Everyone (Tucson, Arizona), Twin Cities YIMBY (Minneapolis, Minnesota), Urban Environmentalists (California), Urban Environmentalists Bay Area (San Francisco, California), Urban Environmentalists Illinois (Chicago, Illinois), Urban Environmentalists Los Angeles (Los Angeles, California), Ventura County YIMBY (Ventura, California), YIMBY Delaware (Wilmington, Delaware), Utah Clean Energy, Housing Alliance Delaware, Delaware League of Local Governments, Delaware State Housing Authority, YWCA Delaware

Text of the bill can be found here

one-pager on the bill can be found here