WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis (both R-WY) joined U.S. Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) in reintroducing the Helping Open Underutilized Space to Ensure Shelter (HOUSES) Act which seeks to alleviate housing constraints experienced across Wyoming. This legislation would enable state and local governments to utilize select federal lands in appropriate areas to bolster local efforts to combat rising housing costs and increase available housing stock. The legislation expressly prohibits the use of national parks and lands with special designations, such as national monuments, wilderness areas or national recreation areas.
Housing affordability has become a particularly acute problem under President Joe Biden due to his out-of-control spending which led to inflation and surging interest rates that have pushed home ownership, a pillar of the American Dream, out of reach for many people in Wyoming.
“Housing affordability is a nationwide problem. Rent is high and mortgages are even higher thanks to Bidenomics. The HOUSES Act will provide new options to state and local governments by allowing them to buy certain lands from the federal government for residential purposes. As more people move to Wyoming, growing communities need options to expand housing,” said Barrasso.
“As affordable housing becomes scarcer in Wyoming, we need innovative solutions to help families be able to continue calling Wyoming home,” said Lummis. “The HOUSES Act frees up some federal land to be purchased and repurposed for residential development and helps western families fulfill and continue to live the American dream.”
Click here to read the bill.
NBC News reported that the average Wyoming homebuyer has lost more than 50% of their purchasing power since President Biden took office.
The HOUSES Act is endorsed by the National Association of Counties.
The HOUSES Act:
- Offers small parcels of federal land for purchase to states or local government entities at a Payment in Lieu of Taxes ratioed price.
- Ensures that these lands are primarily used for housing purposes with a mandate of at least 85% of the land being dedicated for residential purposes and the community’s related needs.
- Establishes density requirements, ensuring a minimum of four homes per acre.
- Prohibits the development of luxury second homes on these parcels, thereby focusing on affordability.
- Protects certain areas by explicitly excluding national parks and lands with special designations, such as national monuments, wilderness areas, or national recreation areas, from being nominated.