May 18, 2023

Kilmer, Bipartisan Group of Lawmakers Introduce YIMBY Act to Tackle Housing Crisis and Lower Costs

Bipartisan Legislation Advocates for Zoning Reforms, Streamlined Permitting, and Increased Housing Development

WASHINGTON, D.C. Amid a growing housing crisis, U.S. Representatives Derek Kilmer (WA-06), Mike Flood (NE-01), Emanuel Cleaver, II (MO-05), and Brittany Pettersen (CO-07) have introduced the Yes In My Backyard (YIMBY) Act, legislation to help overcome barriers to increasing home construction, including outdated zoning, slow permitting, and discriminatory land use policies. U.S. Senators Todd Young (IN) and Brian Schatz (HI) introduced identical legislation in the U.S. Senate.

“Our nation had challenges with housing before the pandemic – and those challenges have only grown since then. We need more workforce housing, more senior housing, more homeless housing, and more affordable housing. We need more housing units, period,” said Rep. Kilmer. “That’s why I’m leading bipartisan legislation in the House to help communities in our region and across the country reduce barriers to construction and build more homes that folks can afford.”

“Affordable housing is a top issue for many communities across the country,” said Rep. Flood. “The Yes in My Backyard Act will help boost America’s housing supply and strengthen the Community Development Block Grant program, which has served our country well for many years. It’s an honor to help lead this bipartisan effort to keep housing costs down for working American families.”

“If we’re going to move the nation forward and out of the current housing affordability crisis that is burdening Americans across the country, then we must break down barriers and build more affordable housing in every region of the country. It’s that simple,” said Rep. Cleaver. “By cutting through bureaucratic red tape that works against working families, the YIMBY Act takes long overdue steps that will help rebuild our nation’s housing stock in communities all over—which will help lower costs and ensure more Americans have an opportunity to achieve the American Dream. As Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Housing & Insurance, I applaud Congressman Kilmer for his work to lower costs and keep families housed, and I’m proud to be an original cosponsor of the bipartisan, bicameral YIMBY Act.”

“People across Colorado know all too well how drastic the housing crisis is in our country. We simply cannot keep up with the demand for affordable housing for our workers, seniors, or low and middle-income families,” said Rep. Pettersen. “I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation with my colleagues to encourage local governments to work together to address policies that may be affecting affordability and build more housing to help those who need it the most.”

Recent research underscores the urgency of the situation: America's housing production fell 7.3 million homes short between 2000 and 2015, causing household budgets to skyrocket, according to the Millions of Missing Homes Report. Research from Up for Growth identified housing as the leading factor contributing to the rise in household budgets over the past 15 years. Addressing the nation's housing crisis is a complex challenge, but this legislation acknowledges that restrictive zoning and land use policies are part of the problem.

The YIMBY Act, in response to this issue, ensures that recipients of the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program report on policies that could potentially impact housing affordability. The Act requires these recipients to monitor and report on the progress of certain land use policies promoting housing production. This includes the introduction of high-density single-family and multifamily zoning, modifications to height limitations, and efforts to both encourage and reduce minimum lot sizes.

The CDBG program annually awards grants to states and local governments with the aim of developing communities by providing decent housing and expanding economic opportunities. Recognizing the vital role of CDBG funds in local development, the bill aims to foster collaboration between local governments and CDBG practitioners. The ultimate goal is to address the severe housing underproduction issue and enhance the lives of families and individuals affected by the lack of affordable housing.

“Discriminatory local zoning and land use policies drive up housing costs in communities across America,” said Sen. Young. “These policies exacerbate the housing affordability crisis and stifle the ability of Americans to move to areas of opportunity. My legislation will require cities, towns, and rural areas across America to face this reality under a new level of transparency and encourage them to cut these harmful regulations.”

“In order to reverse anti-housing policies, we need to know where they are in place and how they hurt communities,” said Sen. Schatz. “Our bill will provide HUD and the public with more transparency on policies that are stopping much-needed housing from being built.”

The YIMBY Act is endorsed by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), American Planning Association (APA), Americans for Prosperity, Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU), Council of Large Public Housing Authorities (CLPHA), Family Promise, Grounded Solutions Network, Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI), Housing Advisory Group (HAG), Leading Builders of America, LOCUS: Responsible Real Estate Developers and Investors, Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI), Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), NAIOP, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association, National Apartment Association (NAA), National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP), National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB), National Association of REALTORS (NAR), National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM), National Community Stabilization Trust (NCST), National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA), National Housing Conference (NHC), National Leased Housing Association (NLHA), National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC), National NeighborWorks Association, Prosperity Now, R Street Institute, ReFrame Foundation, Smart Growth America (SGA), Tacoma Housing Authority, Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity, The Real Estate Roundtable (RER), Up for Growth Action, YIMBY Action.

A letter of support from national organizations is available HERE.

“Hard-working Americans deserve a real solution to housing affordability challenges, like the bi-partisan YIMBY Act,” said Bob Pinnegar, CEO & President, National Apartment Association. “The National Apartment Association is proud to support this important bill, which will help ease our nation's affordability crisis and spur construction of much-needed affordable and market based housing. Sens. Young (R-Ind.) and Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Reps. Kilmer (D-WA-06) and Flood (R-NE-01) have demonstrated tremendous leadership on this issue and their hard work will help expand affordable housing options in communities nationwide.”

“For the past decade, our region has been dealing with increasing costs associated with housing while at the same time limited capacity to build new homes to accommodate the Pacific Northwest’s exploding population,” said April Black, Executive Director, Tacoma Housing Authority. “Part of the problem is burdensome zoning and regulatory requirements that limit innovation and density in our neighborhoods. Rep. Kilmer’s YIMBY Act seeks to solve for this by incentivizing municipalities who received federal money from HUD to find solutions that will allow for more diverse and increased housing in our communities. Eliminating these types of discriminatory land use policies is not only smart policy for increased housing, but is also the right thing to do for those historically marginalized from certain neighborhoods and housing.”

“On behalf of Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity, I support the YIMBY Act and Representative Kilmer's work to mitigate our housing affordability crisis,” said Maureen Fife, CEO, Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity. “Anything that can be done to increase density and create more access for historically disenfranchised people to achieve homeownership is a win for our neighbors who deserve a safe, stable, and affordable place to call home and the opportunity to build generational wealth.”

“Despite a decade of economic growth, more Americans are cost burdened than ever before, and millions are experiencing houselessness and housing instability. A key driver of this crisis is that the nation is missing millions of homes, with nation falling 3.8 million homes short of meeting housing needs as of 2019,” said Mike Kingsella, CEO, Up for Growth Action. “The YIMBY Act, led by Representatives Derek Kilmer and Mike Flood, offers a thoughtful approach. It promotes policy transparency and encourages pro-housing initiatives, while respecting the need for flexibility and avoiding rigid mandates. This Act paces the way for affordable, equitable, and sustainable communities. Up for Growth Action urges Congress to endorse the YIMBY Act saying ‘yes’ to housing.”

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