U.S. Mayor Articles

Pilot Cities Announced For One Million New Homes Initiative

By Eugene T. Lowe

Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Andrew Cuomo and National Association of Home Builders President Charles J. Ruma announced on November 3 the 14 cities that have been chosen as pilot sites in an initiative to build one million new homes over the next 10 years in America's cities.

Introducing Secretary Cuomo at a ceremony celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Housing Act of 1949, President Ruma read out the chosen cities: Baltimore, Buffalo, Chicago, Cincinnati, Columbus (OH), Dayton, Houston, Louisville, Philadelphia (PA), Sacramento, St. Louis, San Antonio, Tampa, and Washington, D.C.

Secretary Cuomo said in his speech: "Today, we officially launch the 1 million homes initiative in 14 cities across America, which will open up new markets for builders and result in stronger urban economies, stronger communities and stronger families."

The selection of the pilot cities followed a February announcement by HUD, the National Association of Home Builders and The U.S. Conference of Mayors, which included a signed Memorandum of Understanding where all three groups agreed to work toward the building of one million homes over the next ten years. All also agreed that the initiative would begin with the selection of the pilot cities.

The selection criteria for selecting the cities was determined by the Council on Building Homes in America's Cities-- an advisory council made up of representatives from HUD, the National Association of Home Builders, and The U.S. Conference of Mayors.

With the announcement of the cities, HUD, the Home Builders, and the Conference of Mayors will assume specific responsibilities to assure the initiative's success. HUD will assign the Community Builders staff to assist the Mayors and Home Builders to identify federal resources and technical assistance grants. The Home Builders will encourage its membership to pursue opportunities to build in cities. The Conference of Mayors will call on its membership to work with HUD and local home builders. As for the cities, they will initiate approaches and strategies that will remove barriers and help builders achieve new home production.

The pilot cities listed below (information compiled by HUD) are taking the following actions as part of the Building Homes in America's Cities Initiative.

Baltimore, MD
Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke
Dr. John Kortecamp, Executive Vice President, Home Builders Association of Maryland

Summary: The local initiative will demonstrate a commitment to principles of smart growth, and focus on building market rate housing to foster diversity in the city's neighborhoods. It will: create a Housing Venture Fund; consolidate city programs that will focus on homeownership assistance; provide city bond funds to assist city employees in purchasing homes; and create "live where you work" programs and use City/HUD programs for this initiative. The city will sell vacant houses and lots for $1 to developers, and provide relocation funds. The city will provide in-kind contributions such as waiving certain fees, code and site requirements to further reduce project costs. Examples of such in-kind contributions include waiving fees for building permits, occupancy permits, sediment and erosion fees, inspection fees, zoning appeal filing fees, legal costs, and boundary surveys.

Buffalo, NY
Mayor Anthony M. Masiello
Joseph McIvor, Executive Director, Buffalo Home Builders Association

Summary: A team of local builders will develop innovative projects. The city will: improve and reform its permit, inspection and regulatory systems and requirements; develop linkage with HUD-funded Homeownership Zone program and HOPE VI development; and develop linkages with the city's faith-based, community based resources. The city will creatively use Section 8 vouchers for homeownership, and will make available the city's thousand usable lots.

Chicago, IL
Mayor Richard M. Daley
Dan Mclean, President, city of Chicago Home Builders Association

Summary: The city will undertake efforts to remove, eliminate or suspend any unnecessary, duplicative regulatory procedures that may impede the development process or raise housing construction costs. The city has developed a New Homes for Chicago Project that is building new single- and two-family homes for low- and moderate-income residents. city owned lots valued at $20,000 or less will be pledged for $1. There will be waivers or reductions in various building permits and utility connection fees. There will be a per home development subsidy of $10,000, and per-unit purchase subsidy of $10,000 in structures having condominium ownership. There will be city assistance in developing creative financing for low- and moderate-income individuals and families.

Cincinnati, OH
Mayor Roxanne Qualls
Alan G. Schmidt, Home Builders Association of Greater Cincinnati

Summary: The city will undertake a project to remove barriers for development. It will: create a position to coordinate this effort; establish a Neighborhood Revitalization Program; implement a system that will integrate reform of the city's review, permits, licensing and inspections functions; create a one-stop process for fast tracking new construction; look at alternative methods and materials in new housing construction; develop linkages with neighborhood redevelopment and comprehensive planning activities; and explore new and innovative private and public funding and financing sources for construction and homeownership.

Columbus, OH
Mayor Greg Lashutka
Tom Hart, Executive Officer, Building Industry Association of Central Ohio

Summary: The city will: improve the process of upgraded capability inside city government to identify, inventory and prepare sites for housing redevelopment; create an expedited or alternative regulatory system, zoning, development standards, permits, and inspections; and identify sites and potential areas for new construction activities.

Dayton, OH
Mayor Michael Turner
David Bohardt, Exec. Director, Home Builder Association of Dayton and Miami Valley

Summary: The city is committed to streamlining building permits. The city will use its Real Estate Acquisition Program to eliminate blight and foreclose on tax delinquent properties. It will also provide infrastructure assistance, increasing neighborhood enhancements such as sidewalks and streetlights. The city will provide innovative down payment assistance for low- and moderate income families for homeownership, increase code enforcement, and improve linkages with neighborhood housing partnerships.

Houston, TX
Mayor Lee P. Brown
Dan Bawden, President, Greater Houston Builders Association

Summary: The city will provide over $6 million in downpayment assistance for new home buyers. It will creatively use Community Development Block Grant and HOME funds for housing production. The city will: use the Texas Tax Increment Financing Act to provide revenues for low-income housing; initiate a program for recapture of abandoned, tax-delinquent properties; streamline the residential plan review and inspections system; waive impact fees on new construction at or below current median housing costs; provide infrastructure improvements; and use residential and brownfields tax abatements to promote new construction and homeownership opportunities.

Louisville, KY
Mayor David L. Armstrong
William Benton Peter, President-Elect, Home Builders Association of Louisville

Summary: The city will consolidate all its inspections, permitting, licensing and code enforcement functions into one agency. Site inspection requests will be handled within 24 hours. The city will assist developers in reducing the cost and time of construction, including by waiving certain impact fees. The city and Home Builders will develop new inner city "subdivision''designed to bring middle-income homeowners back to the city.

Philadelphia, PA
Mayor Edward G. Rendell
Boris Lang, President, Building Industry Association of Philadelphia

Summary: The focus will be on creation of materials for home builders that will demonstrate the market demand for new, market-rate housing in the city, and streamline the process by which builders can obtain approvals for new construction within the city. This will include the use of federal, state and local assistance for creative financing and use of HUD programs for increasing housing production.

Sacramento, CA
Mayor Joe Serna, Jr.
Cheryl Gibson, President Building Industry Association of Superior California

Summary: The city and Home Builders will develop and implement a vision and mission statement ---- 21 recommendations for improving customer service; and 5 recommendations to formalize process improvements and the creation of an ongoing oversight commission. Some examples are: a density bonus ordinance for projects with a low-income component; potential city funding of infrastructure components for infill housing projects; and streamlined plan and design review functions for infill housing. The mayor and city officials will use an economic development and infill development strategy and continue the use of the city's Brownfields program.

Tampa, FL
Mayor Dick A. Greco
Raymond Johnson, President, Builders Association of Greater Tampa

Summary: The city will implement a Circle of Renewal program developing many commercial areas and neighborhoods downtown. The city will use $8.5 million of HUD Consolidated Plan funds to serve residents and promote homeownership. It will use Hope VI funds from HUD to rejuvenate specific areas of the city. The city will also: improve accessibility to housing by low and moderate income families; seek increased State and private resources for housing production and homeownership; and use numerous initiatives that are on-going, such as the Tampa Enterprise Community and State Enterprise designation to promote housing production and assist first-time owners. The city will continue reorganization of city's Code Enforcement Division. Builders will assist in helping city streamline its plan review, permit and building processes.

San Antonio, TX
Mayor Howard W. Peak
Darry Moltz, President, Greater San Antonio Builders Association

Summary: The city will continue 1999 Neighborhood Showcase for affordable housing development; work with private, non-profit and public entities to increase housing production; convey city-owned lots to the San Antonio Housing Trust Investment Corp. and work with home builders to make these lots available for infill construction. The city will work with local financial institutions to provide financing for low- and moderate-income home buyers; use federal, state and local resources to provide homeownership opportunities and increase housing production; and streamline its regulatory and permit review processes.

St. Louis, MO
Mayor Clarence Harmon
Herbert M. Lesser, President, Home Builders Association of Greater St. Louis

Summary: The city will increase education, organization and administration, regulatory and land disposition reforms, marketing, and financing for new construction projects and assistance to first- time home buyers. It will partner with the local home builders association to create new and innovative housing opportunities.

Washington, DC
Mayor Anthony A. Williams
Susan Matlick, President, Maryland National Capital Building Industry Association

Summary: The city will increase efforts to expand homeownership. The city will develop plans to quickly dispose of abandoned homes; work with Home Builders to increase access to building within the District where there is a strong demand for new homes; work with neighborhood residents and associations to develop a strategic plan for increasing housing production and streamlining the District's regulatory and permit review processes; and create a "one-stop" system for building permits. The city will provide funds for infrastructure development and maintenance. The city will develop other partnerships with the major financing institutions like Fannie Mae to increase homeownership in the District, and will identify sites for infill development of infill housing.

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