Last Monday, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the Yes In My Backyard (YIMBY) Act, which directly addresses the affordable housing crisis currently felt throughout the country by streamlining affordable housing production and zoning for high-density single-family and multifamily housing.
The piece of legislation, H.R. 4351, was first put forth in September 2019 by Dennis Heck and Trey Hollingsworth, the US Representatives for Washington’s 10th congressional district and Indiana’s 9th congressional district, respectively. They introduced the bill at the time by stating that the US currently faces an estimated shortage of seven to ten million housing units, significantly more than at any other time in the country’s history. “America is missing millions of homes, and solving our nationwide housing crisis will require federal, state and local governments to work together towards this shared goal,” Heck said in a press statement.
In response to that monumental challenge, the bill proposes several efforts to reduce the hurdles currently associated with affordable housing production, including the reduction of minimum lot sizes, increasing development in areas close to transit centers, and allowing for the construction of duplexes and manufactured homes in areas currently zoned for single-family homes. Increasing the allowable floor area ratio in multifamily housing areas and providing incentives to produce adaptive reuse projects are just a few of the measures listed throughout the bill that could dramatically improve the housing crisis. Many of the measures included, in fact, are similar to those in other, smaller bills passed throughout the country, such as SB-13 in California, which streamlined the process to produce accessory dwelling units in an effort to increase the state’s housing density.
Prior to receiving approval from the House without opposition, the YIMBY Act received support from multiple nonprofit organizations dedicated to the affordable housing crisis, including the American Planning Association, the Congress for New Urbanism, the Council for Affordable and Rural Housing, and Habitat for Humanity International. Hollingsworth said in a press statement that its bipartisan passage “signals strong support across the aisle to reform our nation’s housing regulations at all levels of government.”
The YIMBY act must still pass the Senate and ultimately receive a presidential signature before being signed into law.