Press Releases

Committee Republicans Push for Comprehensive Approach to Increase Affordable Housing Options

Washington, January 14, 2020 -

WASHINGTON – Today, the House Financial Services Committee held a hearing on the causes of rising housing costs – most notably, counterproductive state and local regulatory and zoning laws. Republican Committee Members highlighted the negative impact of these local barriers on the cost of construction and how much housing can be built, which ultimately puts more low-income families at risk of becoming homeless.

Watch Ranking Republican Patrick McHenry’s (NC-10) exchange with Mr. Williams, and Mr. Hendrix here, or by clicking the image above.

After hearing Jeffrey Williams, a tenant advocate and witness at today’s hearing, share his own experience with homelessness, Ranking Republican Patrick McHenry (NC-10) asked Michael Hendrix, Director of State and Local Policy at the Manhattan Institute, how we can help people like Mr. Williams:

“How do you get more affordable housing—in fact—so he’s got more choices. … How do you get more affordable options?”

Mr. Hendrix responded:

We start with reforms at the local level, to zoning laws, to permitting fees, to extensive review times. We also have a greater variety of housing stock, so it’s not just a single-family home that you have to choose from, you can have housing of every type for every income level. Unfortunately, too much of that housing variety has been made illegal in this country, and we need to make it legal. … Right now, for instance on zoning, you can only build certain types of homes in certain places, and what you build maybe has to be a certain size, or it has to be of a certain limit on the height, and that hurts way too many places where there is a lot of demand. So that is especially true on America’s coasts, I happen to live in Manhattan, it is not cheap in Manhattan, it’s also not cheap in California.”


According to the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, about half of all renters in the country are considered ‘cost-burdened,’ meaning they pay more than 1/3 of their income towards rent. While these affordability challenges exist in many places, the reality is they are most acutely experienced in high-cost, high-tax cities in dense urban areas. These same high-cost cities and states are also responsible for a nation-wide increase in homelessness, which has increased by 3 percent over the past year. In order to address the high cost of housing, lawmakers must enact policy changes to address the barriers stopping more affordable housing from being constructed.


  • Karen Chapple, Professor and Chair of the Department of City and Regional Planning, University of California, Berkley
  • Matthew Desmond, Maurice P. During Professor of Sociology & Director of the Eviction Lab, Princeton University
  • Priya Jayachandran, President, National Housing Trust
  • Jeffrey Williams, Tenant Advocate
  • Mr. Michael Hendrix, Director of State and Local Policy, Manhattan Institute 

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