What is the impact of building codes on the state of America’s affordable housing? This was the question raised when the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson took to the nation’s roadways as part of a recent bus tour dedicated to uncovering barriers to affordable housing in our cities and communities. We talked with building official William Ondulich of Largo to get some insider information.
The Driving Affordable Housing Across America Bus Tour was developed by the White House Council on Eliminating Regulatory Barriers to Affordable Housing, of which Carson is also the chair. The tour itself kicked off in Louisville, KY, in January. At every stop, says William Ondulich, representatives from local community organizations met with Carson and his crew to discuss the current and future availability of affordable housing in the United States.
These organizations, 35 in all, included members of the International Code Council as well as engineering, housing, emergency response, insurance, and other state and local entities. Their response to HUD’s request for information on the topic included the following points, reports William Ondulich of Largo:
- Building codes, and the need for communities to comply with them, are not an appreciable barrier to affordable housing, according to every available study or report on the subject
- Modern model codes, in fact, are a way for housing authorities and builders to reduce planning, engineering, and construction costs, building delays, insurance rates, utility bills, and the costs associated with disaster recovery
- Adopting modern model codes is one way to achieve regulatory consistency while at the same time supporting HUD’s administrative efforts to encourage code enforcement and alignment
The tour will run through June 2020, and is expected to make several dozen more stops in Southeast, Midwest, and West Coast communities. Look for William Ondulich of Largo to synthesize future reports from the road as developments occur.