The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 25, 2019
BACKGROUND PRESS CALL
BY SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIALS
ON THE EXECUTIVE ORDER ESTABLISHING A WHITE HOUSE COUNCIL
ON ELIMINATING REGULATORY BARRIERS TO AFFORDABLE HOUSING

Via Teleconference


1:05 P.M. EDT

MS. BURRIS: Thank you, Operator. And thank you, everyone, for joining the call this afternoon on the Executive Order on Establishing a White House Council on Eliminating Regulatory Barriers to Affordable Housing.

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Everything you'll hear on the call today will be embargoed until the conclusion. You'll hear from our Housing and Urban Development Secretary, Dr. Ben Carson. His opening remarks will be on the record. Everything else, and subsequent Q&A, will be on background.

And with that, I'll pass it over to Dr. Carson.

SECRETARY CARSON: All right, thank you very much. I’m actually -- rather than come up with a completely different speech, I'm just going to say a bit of what I’m going say at the EO signing today:

Today I'm privileged to be here for the creation of the White House Council on Eliminating Barriers to Affordable Housing, which I have the great honor to chair. The Council, which consists of members across eight federal agencies, will lead federal efforts to engage with state, local, and tribal leaders across the country to remove obstacles that impede the production of more affordable homes, namely the enormous price tag of burdensome government regulations.

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The President has given us a mission to break down barriers and to clear the path for millions of Americans to pursue their American Dream. It's a mission we proudly and enthusiastically accept.

More than 25 percent of the cost of a new home is the direct result of federal, state, and local regulations. And sometimes, the price tag is much higher than that. President Trump's decades of experience as a world-renowned builder and developer gives this administration's leadership a unique set of insights when confronting the challenges of developing more housing.

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Today's announcement recognizes the need for federal policies to serve Americans of all income levels, including working-class Americans such as teachers and nurses, auto-mechanics, construction workers, police officers, and firefighters whose struggles are sometimes forgotten.

I would like to thank President Trump and the leadership of this administration, many of whom will be here today, for once again fulfilling your promise that the forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.

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I look forward to working alongside my fellow councilmembers in the months ahead as we use these efforts to continue to build the pillars of prosperity that support all the men and women of this country in their quest for that portion of the American Dream that includes a home. The home is a foundation for the community, which is the foundation of the nation. We can do this if we all work together. Thank you.

Q Hi, thanks for having this call. This is (inaudible) with the San Francisco Chronicle. I'm curious what exactly will be announced today? Is it just the Council that's going to then study these barriers? Or are there any specific regulations that you guys are targeting for removal at this point?

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SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The goal of the Council, of course, is to facilitate the identification, along with the state and local agencies, of those things that already exist on the books that are regulatory barriers.

Now, many of these have been on the books for 10, 20, 50 -- even more years than that -- and were relevant at the time that they were put in place but no longer hold relevance. And to begin to focus on those things -- now, some places have already started doing this over the last year, and we continue to work with them and to help facilitate their efforts.

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For instance, I was Minnesota last week, where they have decided to deregulate in terms of the zoning requirement for single-family housing. That resulted in the production of a beautiful multi-family dwelling, which everybody is proud of. Those are the kinds of things that will make a big difference. And we'll be taking best practices, spreading them around, and using the influence and the ability of each of the agencies to work in a coordinated manner so that things can be done quickly.

Also, we will be listening very carefully, as we do things, to the voices of the stakeholders, making sure that what we are doing is actually working.

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Q Hello. This is Karen Rubin at News & Photo Features. Can you provide any specific examples of regulations you expect to overturn, and how that will promote more affordable housing?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I’m going to turn you over to one of our scientists.

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SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thank you. On background. So to finish up by answering previous question, and then I’ll jump into the subsequent question -- in addition to studying and identifying and working with stakeholders and government officials to find these regulatory barriers, as the Secretary discussed, once those are identified, our next goal is to work across all eight members of the Council to address the federal regulatory barriers that might be inadvertently raising the cost of housing across the country.

So we’ll be taking a close look at the regulations that are in, of course, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Treasury, the Department of Interior, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Labor, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Energy, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

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The next goal of the Council, in addition to those federal regulations, is to take a look and study the existing programs that exist in all of these agencies to see how we can better align, support, and encourage local and state governments to deregulate at their level.

And then the next goal -- the third goal of the Council -- will be to develop further legislative or regulatory policy recommendations that can carry forth and take this deregulatory action to the next level and further encourage that deregulation at the local and state level.

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And then, to answer the subsequent question of some of the examples: The examples vary widely, as the Secretary alluded to, across the country. Every municipality and state has different regulations that some might suffer from: density restrictions, some are zoning laws, or exhausted permitting offices, environmental regulations, building codes, parking requirements. All of these things add up and add up the cost of housing, and we’ll be seeking to encourage that deregulation.

At the federal level, we’re starting those conversations now, across those agencies I mentioned, to identify what those specific regulations are at the federal level.

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SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: And I might add that one of the areas where the press could be particularly useful is helping to dispel some of the misconceptions that create NIMBYism -- “Not in my backyard”-ism. A lot of people think that the federal government is still engaged in some of the practices of the ‘60s and ‘70s, where they would come in, build these monstrous, multi-family units with no forethought or afterthought, and leave them to deteriorate.

We don’t do that anymore. Now we’re talking about mixed-income, multi-family units. We’re talking about public-private partnerships, where you have continued interests in the private sector, in the maintenance of the places. We’re talking about holistic buildings that are supported by the network and the community -- all of those things that make a very, very big difference in terms of the way things are done. Because we do want, you know, the people who add value to the community, who work there, to be able to live there.

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MS. BURRIS: Great. Thank you everyone for joining the call today. Again, just to go over ground rules: Everything is embargoed until the conclusion of the call. Secretary Carson’s remarks at the top of the call are on the record. All Q&A is attributable, on background, to a senior administration official.

Thank you again.

END 1:15 P.M. EDT

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