Homebuilders Feel Congress Missing the Mark on Affordability
The House Financial Services Committee held two hearings this week focusing on different aspects of the housing affordability crisis that largely failed to address the central problem: The lack of housing units is the primary cause of growing housing affordability challenges. Any policy that seeks to improve affordability without adding single-family or multifamily for-sale or for-rent housing is doomed to fail.
On Tuesday, the Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight & Investigations examined whether institutional investors who buy single-family homes in working-class neighborhoods are driving up rental costs or responding to market demand.
A day later the full committee focused on the long-term impacts of the hot housing market and the huge gaps between White homeownership rates and minority homeownership rates.
Although both hearings touched on affordability problems, NAHB is disappointed the House panels did not address the issues our members brought up to the entire Congress on June 15 when more than 600 NAHB Builder, Associate and Remodeler members trekked to Capitol Hill to spotlight the growing housing affordability crisis. In more than 200 meetings with lawmakers, NAHB members called on Congress to support policies that will ease building material production bottlenecks and increase the production of quality, affordable housing.
The way for Congress to improve affordability conditions is to implement policies that will help builders to construct more single-family homes and apartments to meet consumer demand. To help achieve this laudable goal, lawmakers need to focus on strategies to ease:
- Volatile building material prices and supply chain disruptions;
- Burdensome federal regulations; and
- A chronic construction labor shortage.
Acting on these fronts will ease higher housing construction costs and construction delays that are contributing to higher home building costs, hampering housing production and raising costs for home owners and renters.
This is the same message that more than 10,000 NAHB members recently sent to President Biden in a letter outlining the gravity of the situation and the need to act.
NAHB is calling on the administration and Congress to take the following actions:
- Suspend tariffs on Canadian lumber imports into the United States to help ease higher housing costs in this high inflation environment and to move immediately to enter into negotiations with Canada on a new softwood lumber agreement.
- Pass the No Timber from Tyrants Act, which would ban lumber imports from Russia and ramp up responsible harvesting of timber from federal lands to create jobs and produce more sustainable wood products.
- Take further actions to address volatile building material prices and supply chain disruptions.
- Promote and fund job training programs to prepare individuals for careers in home building and pursue immigration policies that help fill labor gaps while protecting the nation’s borders.
- Utilize aggressive federal incentives to help improve local zoning, impact fee and permitting process reforms to create a regulatory environment favorable to new construction.
NAHB is determined to keep the pressure on the White House and Congress, and is working 24-7 to keep housing in the national forefront and to resolve these critical housing affordability issues that are affecting all our members across the country.