Federal Agencies Update Rules to Support Office Conversions

New grant rules make it easier for local governments to acquire commercial properties for conversion to affordable housing.

1 minute read

October 30, 2023, 7:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

White banner with red "SPACE AVAILABLE" text hanging at top of white office building.

MichaelVi / Adobe Stock

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced an update to the Community Development Block Grant program to promote the conversion of office buildings to housing.

According to an article by Molly Bolan in Route Fifty, the update is part of a larger group of changes aimed at creating more affordable housing “by transferring underutilized public land to local governments for housing and building more homes near public transit.”

Under the updated rules, cities can use grant funding to buy and convert commercial buildings, and another rule change makes it easier for transit agencies “to transfer underutilized properties to local governments, nonprofits or private developers of affordable housing to create more homes.”

In addition to supporting conversions, “The Department of Transportation issued new guidance on how states, cities and developers can use funds from two programs to support transit-oriented housing—the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act and the Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing program.” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg highlighted the link between housing and transportation, saying, “Our intention is to make the most of this opportunity to add more housing near transit in ways that not only reduced the cost of housing but also often reduced the cost of transportation.”

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