Homeowner Promises Fight Over Huge Housing ‘Affordability’ Costs – High Fees for Single Family Housing Permits Contribute to Unaffordable Housing – Institute for Justice (IJ) Legal Efforts

Housing unaffordability is and has been a headline issue for years. A CNN report in August of 2023 proclaimed: “Home affordability is the worst it has been since 1984,” and matters are arguably worse now than then. CNBC has a report spotlighted by the MSN news aggregator tool that says: “Housing prices are what’s driving inflation, says Enterprise Community Partners’ Shaun Donovan.” Per the Enterprise Community Partner’s website bio for Shaun Donovan: “He served in President Barack Obama’s cabinet for his full eight years in office, as secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) from 2009 to 2014 and as director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget from 2014 to 2017.” That same source added: “Donovan was named a senior fellow by the Ford Foundation in 2022 and currently serves as a trustee of the Urban Institute, Regional Plan Association, National Alliance to End Homelessness, Greater NY, and Rethink Food, as well as on the advisory board of Opportunity Insights.”

Part II will provide more information along with MHLivingNews commentary as to how this relates to manufactured homes or the affordable housing crisis more broadly.

Part I


Homeowner promises fight over huge housing ‘affordability’ costs

Law would charge $75,000 for permit for home

By Bob Unruh | Published July 4, 2024 at 6:37pm

A homeowner fighting a Seattle law that demands $75,000 for permission to build a home for one family is vowing to continue the battle.

The promise comes from Anita Adams, who sued over the city’s “Mandatory Housing Affordability” scheme that could set her back a huge sum just for a permit.

A lower court dismissed her case, but she says it’s not over.

The Institute for Justice is helping her.

“Despite its name, Seattle’s Mandatory Housing Affordability law does the opposite of what it intended—it makes it unaffordable for people like Anita to build housing on their own property,” explained Suranjan Sen, of the IJ.

“At a time when Seattle faces a housing crisis it boggles the mind that the city would impose fees on someone who is doing her best to build affordable housing for her family. While frustrating, today’s decision is not the last word on the constitutionality of the law. We firmly believe that Seattle’s MHA program violates the constitutional rights of homeowners and small developers and we are appealing this decision to ensure justice for Anita and others like her.”

The IJ reported, “Adams grew up and raised her family in the city’s Central District. With Seattle’s housing costs frustratingly high, Anita’s family members were forced out of their neighborhoods. That didn’t sit right with her, so she started to dream about building an addition to her property with room for her two kids and father-in-law. But when she started to research the process, she determined that although the city’s zoning code made her plans permissible, the MHA effectively made it too expensive to build her addition: the law could force her to pay tens of thousands of dollars in fees just to get a building permit. That made Anita’s dream unattainable.”

William Maurer, of IJ’s Washington office, pointed out, “The court’s decision today is very limited, holding that there may be circumstances in which the city may apply the law constitutionally, and that Anita needed to seek a waiver of the MHA conditions and be rejected before she could sue.”

He said, “The court’s decision does not lift the specter of unconstitutionality from this law. It simply holds that any challenger to the law must first go through the city’s waiver process before she may file suit. That is incorrect, as the waiver process itself is often prohibitively expensive, as it was for Anita. We expect that the Ninth Circuit will recognize that forcing property owners to undergo—in the name of affordability—a long and expensive waiver process to avoid an unconstitutional condition just to build on their own property is a real harm.”

The lawsuit challenged the city based on the Fifth Amendment’s limitations on government takings.” That requires “just compensation” when a government takes property, or imposes regulations that deprive the owner of the effective use and value of a property. ##

Bob Unruh joined WND in 2006 after nearly three decades with the Associated Press, as well as several Upper Midwest newspapers, where he covered everything from legislative battles and sports to tornadoes and homicidal survivalists. He is also a photographer whose scenic work has been used commercially.


Part II – Additional Information with More MHLivingNews Analysis and Commentary

1) From the Institute for Justice (IJ) video below, the Black family in question said they wanted to be able to exercise their rights to build on their own property. The high fees highlighted in Unruh’s report above makes that “impossible” for them now.  The Institute for Justice said the “Seattle’s “Mandatory Housing Affordability” [MHA] scheme ” is violating her 5th and 14th Amendment rights.



As WND’s report by Unruh in Part I above explains, IJ says it is appealing the decision.

2) MHProNews and MHLivingNews have for several years mentioned some of the litigation brought by IJ on behalf of affordable housing seekers.






3) But the fact that IJ is bringing such litigation begs the question. Why isn’t the Manufactured Housing Institute bringing such litigation, specifically on behalf of those who want to place a manufactured home on privately owned land?

A new report by MHProNews probes that topic in greater depth through the lens of the Loper Bright enterprise ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). See that linked below.




4) Housing affordability is impacted by several factors, including, but not limited to, a lack of production of more new affordable homes. Officials with HUD are among those who have said so.




5) HUD research has specifically said that manufactured homes are a part of the solution. So have other groups. HUD’s Regina Gray has said that people are coming from around the world to learn more about modern manufactured housing.




6) So, it is ironic the HUD – the primary federal regulator for manufactured housing has failed to enforce a standard known as “enhanced preemption.” HUD’s failure to enforce federal enhanced preemption is a matter probed by Congress in at least two different sets of Congressional hearings.






7) To learn more about these interrelated issues, see the linked reports. Because public officials, says IJ and others, clearly know what is wrong that causes the affordable housing crisis, yet they continually fail to take the steps needed to correct the issue.















To learn more, see the linked and related reports, or surf this site and our MHProNews.com sister site.  ##


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We lay out the facts and insights that others can’t or won’t do. That’s what makes our sister site and this location the runaway leaders for authentic information about affordable housing in general, the politics behind the problems, and manufactured homes specifically. That’s a wrap on this installment of “News through the lens of  manufactured homes and factory-built housing” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (Affordable housing, manufactured homes, reports, fact-checks, analysis, and commentary. Third-party images or content are provided under fair use guidelines for media.) (See Related Reports, further below. Text/image boxes often are hot-linked to other reports that can be access by clicking on them.)

All on Capitol Hill were welcoming and interested in the discussion of manufactured housing-related issues in our 12.3.2019 meetings. But Texas Congressman Al Green’s office was tremendous in their hospitality. Our son’s hand is on a package that included a copy of the Constitution of the United States and other goodies. MHProNews has worked with people and politicos across the left-right divide.

By L.A. “Tony” Kovach – for MHLivingNews.com.

Tony earned a journalism scholarship and earned numerous awards in history and in manufactured housing. For example, he earned the prestigious Lottinville Award in history from the University of Oklahoma, where he studied history and business management. He’s a managing member and co-founder of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com. This article reflects the LLC’s and/or the writer’s position, and may or may not reflect the views of sponsors or supporters.


Connect on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/latonykovach

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