Ben Carson says LA has too many single-family homes

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U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson blamed restrictive zoning rules for LA’s affordable housing crisis in an interview with the Wall Street JournalMonday.

The department plans to rework its long-delayed enforcement policy on fair housing, and Carson saysthe new rules will reward cities that allow for dense development. Using LA as an example of a city where development is restricted to single-family homes in many neighborhoods, Carson argued that such policies limit the supply of housing—at the expense of lower-earning residents.

“Of course you’re going to have skyrocketing prices that no one can afford,” he told the Journal.

Housing advocates have long argued that zoning rules in LA that favor lower-slung development projects contribute to high housing costs and relatively segregated neighborhoods.

Nearly 80 percent of residential land in Los Angeles was zoned for single-family homes, as of 2014.

When HUD unveiled its Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rules, under President Obama, restrictive zoning was identified as a key factor contributing to segregation in U.S. cities.

Those rules would have enforced a long-ignored element of the 1968 Fair Housing Act, requiring local officials to make plans for addressing segregation in their communities.

Earlier this year, the department announced that it would delay rollout of those regulations. Later, the department shut down online access to tools needed by communities to create plans. On Monday, the department began the process of rewriting the rules entirely.

Shots at Los Angeles aside, it’s not clear specifically how Carson plans to overhaul the policy. He did tell the Journal that cities with restrictive zoning codes could lose out on federal grant money—though that’s also a possibility under the existing rules.

An announcement from HUD indicates that the department is seeking input from the public on future changes to the policy.

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