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Bill aimed at making new housing more affordable clears first legislative committee

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Lauren Chapman
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A bill aimed at making new housing more affordable easily cleared its first legislative hurdle Tuesday.

HB 1005 would create a loan fund for local governments to offset infrastructure costs.

Person after person told a House committee that one of the biggest roadblocks to affordable housing is the cost of infrastructure – connecting things like water, sewer, gas and electric lines to new developments.

Gretchen Gutman is with Cook Group, a major Indiana employer that has started building homes to meet its employees' needs.

“Infrastructure adds $57,500 to each parcel,” Gutman said.

READ MORE: Task force recommends more than a dozen policies aimed at addressing Indiana housing crisis

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Legislation would create a loan fund that local governments can apply to, using the money to pay for those infrastructure costs. Seventy percent of the money in the fund would go to communities of less than 50,000 people – causing some to ask why larger communities get a much lower percentage.

Habitat For Humanity State Director Gina Leckron said urban areas have other funding opportunities, compared to more rural areas.

“We have less opportunity and less options to get support in those communities,” Leckron said.

The bill also ensures that the loans would be prioritized for communities that waive or eliminate some local ordinances – regulations that dictate things like garage size, off-street parking and design standards.

The committee unanimously passed the bill. It now goes to a different House committee, which will discuss a funding level for the program.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story said Gretchen Gutman is with Cook Medical Group. That was incorrect. She is with Cook Group.

Contact reporter Brandon at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Copyright 2023 IPB News

Brandon Smith has covered the Statehouse for Indiana Public Broadcasting for more than a decade, spanning three governors and a dozen legislative sessions. He's also the host of Indiana Week in Review, a weekly political and policy discussion program seen and heard across the state. He previously worked at KBIA in Columbia, Missouri and WSPY in Plano, Illinois. His first job in radio was in another state capitol - Jefferson City, Missouri - as a reporter for three stations around the Show-Me State.