Biden Encourages Converting Empty Offices to Housing

The Biden administration is launching a multi-agency effort to encourage states and cities to convert extra empty workplace buildings into housing items, with billions of federal {dollars} obtainable to assist spur such transitions.

The new initiative, introduced Friday morning, includes the departments of Housing and Urban Development and Transportation, together with the General Services Administration and the Office of Management and Budget in a multi-pronged effort to tackle each the nationwide scarcity of reasonably priced housing and the post-pandemic surplus of vacant workplace buildings.

“This presents an area of opportunity to both increase housing supply while revitalizing main streets. It’s a win-win,” mentioned Lael Brainard, director of the National Economic Council. “We’re utilizing resources from across the government.”

Several of the brand new measures will likely be designed to particularly encourage the creation of latest reasonably priced housing items close to transportation hubs like bus terminals and subway stations. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg mentioned his division will difficulty new steerage to states and municipalities on how to entry funding via a pair of federal applications — the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act and Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing.

Buttigieg mentioned that “over $35 billion in lending capacity” will likely be made obtainable to present below-market fee loans to finance each new housing building and workplace conversions close to transportation hubs.

“These downtowns and central business districts .. are already designed and oriented around public transit,” Buttigieg mentioned. “Our intention is to benefit from this chance to add extra housing close to transit in ways in which not solely scale back the price of housing but additionally scale back the price of transportation.”

The Department of Transportation can also be releasing new steerage to make it simpler for transit businesses to switch unused properties or buildings to native governments or nonprofit organizations for conversion into reasonably priced housing. Buttigieg mentioned buildings “like an underutilized storage facility” may be transferred to non-public builders at below-market costs, offered that these builders commit to together with a negotiated proportion of reasonably priced housing items.

In addition, the GSA will work with the Office of Management and Budget to determine surplus federal properties that would equally be transferred for improvement into reasonably priced housing items.

The White House can also be releasing a Commercial to Residential Federal Resources Guidebook with over 20 federal applications throughout six federal businesses that can be utilized to help conversions. These applications embrace low-interest loans, mortgage ensures, grants and tax incentives for builders.

Cities throughout the nation have struggled to address half-empty downtown enterprise districts. Many companies have embraced a hybrid make money working from home mannequin with workers coming to the workplace two or three days every week.

“The pandemic really changed the patterns of how many Americans live and work,” Buttigieg mentioned.

With fewer workers working from the workplace, many companies have deserted massive places of work, leaving some downtown property house owners fighting half-empty buildings and metropolis governments fighting shrinking tax income.

The pattern may very well be persevering with even after the tip of the pandemic, as companies are ready till long-term leases expire after which drastically shrinking the quantity of floorspace they occupy. Multiple municipal governments have embraced the concept of office-to-housing conversions, providing tax incentives to builders to assist subsidize the often-prohibitive prices of such modifications.

Deputy HUD Secretary Adrianne Todman mentioned the brand new bundle of initiatives is designed to “really supercharge” that office-to-housing conversion effort throughout the nation.

Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This materials is probably not revealed, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed with out permission.

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