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Biden-⁠Harris Administration Launches Effort to Spur More Commercial to Residential Conversions

by Channing Hamilton

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Biden-Harris Administration has released a new guidebook, developed in partnership with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and other federal agencies. The goal of the guidebook is to help housing providers identify federal resources to finance the conversion of commercial properties to residential and mixed-use developments.

In addition to the guidebook, HUD will release an updated notice on how its Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding — $10 billion of which has been allocated during the current administration — can be used to boost housing supply, including the acquisition and rehabilitation of commercial properties. According to a statement from HUD, states and localities can access up to five times their annual CDBG allocation to fund projects such as commercial to residential or mixed-use development.

“HUD is hard at work listening to stakeholders and exploring solutions that will help expand and preserve housing supply in the country,” said Adrianne Todman, deputy secretary of HUD, in a prepared statement. “With a shortage of millions of homes nationwide, we need to utilize every resource at our disposal to increase housing supply.”

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is also releasing new guidance on how funds from the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) and Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing (RRIF) programs can support transit-oriented development, including conversion projects. These two programs combined have over $35 billion in available funds. Under DOT’s new guidance, transit agencies may transfer properties to local governments, non-profit and for-profit developers of affordable housing at no cost.

Finally, the General Services Administration (GSA) will expand on its Good Neighbor Program to encourage the sale of surplus federal properties, which buyers could potentially redevelop for residential use. To support this initiative, GSA plans to work with the Office of Management and Budget to identify sales opportunities, maintain a public list of current opportunities and market resources that are available to support housing development.

—  Channing Hamilton

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