This is an open letter to President-elect Donald Trump. The following ideas would positively impact millions of Americans in just the first year by making housing affordable to the masses. This action would also spur thousands of new jobs by putting builders back to work and creating new jobs for building supplies. Mr. Trump, you could go down in history as one of the most compassionate presidents of our country if you implement this proposal.
Let’s start with some easy wins – the low hanging fruit so to speak – that would enable affordable, sustainable houses for millions of Americans at minimal cost and effort. These ideas would be extremely easy to implement on a large scale simply by replicating and/or tweaking existing successful projects.
Ease building code restrictions: Create a national Minimal “Owner-Built Code” as in Cochise County, Arizona. They have what they call an “Owner Built” building permit program for rural residential dwellings that does not require regular inspections, etc. Owners can build pretty much anything they want as long as they apply, and pay for, a permit. After that there are no inspections or approvals.
Ease restrictions on Tiny Houses: The Living Tiny Legally video shows how tiny houses and tiny house communities can be legally built within US cities. Communities such as Fresno and Ojai (CA), and Rockledge (FL) are turning tiny house friendly via innovative zoning. Tiny houses are massively popular among young people and retirees as evidenced by the Tiny House Jamboree 3-day events in Colorado Springs that have attracted 40,000 to 50,000 attendees each year in the last two years.
Encourage sustainable community housing programs: One good example is Community Rebuilds in Moab, Utah that is restoring dilapidated homes with energy efficient straw bale walls, and natural plaster and floors. They minimize costs by using student interns and homeowner labor.
Ease restrictions on using recycled materials: There are enough recycled materials such as recycled wood and hardware in the U.S. to build millions of new solid affordable homes. A simple change of the building code could greatly expand the use of salvaged materials instead of burying these perfectly good building materials in landfills and cutting down more trees than necessary.
Encourage the use of green building materials: There are hundreds of sustainable, eco friendly products such as Watershed Blocks that are made with quarry wastes and other low cost local materials. In addition to providing smart, eco friendly options for builders, these materials also create local jobs.
Facilitate testing and code approval for earthbag building and other natural building methods that currently lack necessary funding. This would put them on par with adobe, rammed earth, strawbale construction, compressed earth block, bamboo and straw/clay building that are already in the US building code.
Encourage the use of energy saving sustainable technologies: roofwater catchment, greywater recycling, rocket stove mass heaters, solar ovens and many other low tech appropriate solutions.
Ease restrictions for off-grid living: Going off-grid for those who choose to do so could be made much easier with some simple regulatory changes. Reducing one’s environmental footprint, growing your own healthy food, energy independence and protecting the environment are honorable goals that many people strive for.
Dear readers, if you like these suggestions please share on social media to improve the chance someone in Mr. Trump’s staff will see this message. Thank you for your support as always.