Nearly 700 NAHB members from across the nation converged on Capitol Hill today for NAHB's 2019 Legislative Conference to urge their lawmakers to support policies that will increase the production of quality, affordable housing and keep the housing recovery moving forward.
"With housing affordability near a 10-year low, we are sending a loud and clear message to members of Congress that there is an urgent need to implement innovative solutions to ease the nation’s affordability woes and enable more families to achieve homeownership or have access to suitable rental housing," said NAHB Chairman Greg Ugalde.
In nearly 300 individual meetings with their representatives and senators, builders discussed the following key housing issues:
- Workforce and immigration. A chronic labor shortage in the housing industry is resulting in higher construction costs, increased home prices and lower economic growth. NAHB urged lawmakers to create a new, market-based guest worker program for the construction sector that will complement ongoing vocational training efforts and help fill labor gaps. Lawmakers were also encouraged to increase funding for job training programs to prepare individuals for careers in home building.
- Trade policy. Builders asked their lawmakers to call on the administration to end tariffs on imports of softwood lumber, steel, aluminum and a wide variety of other goods used by the home building industry that are needlessly raising housing costs. NAHB also called on Congress to ensure swift ratification of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which holds the potential to lift the housing economy.
- Housing finance reform. Uncertainty about the housing finance system stymies investment and slows the housing market. NAHB called on Congress to pass bipartisan housing finance legislation that would reform the current system and provide certainty to the marketplace, while maintaining an appropriate level of government support for housing in all economic and financial conditions.
- Low-Income Housing Tax Credit. To help spur the production of badly needed affordable rental housing, NAHB urged lawmakers to pass the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act. Introduced in the House and Senate earlier this week, the bipartisan legislation would improve the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit by establishing a permanent minimum 4 percent credit floor for acquisition and bond-financed projects. This would provide more flexibility in financing projects and significantly increase unit production.
- National Flood Insurance Program. To continue the stability and growth of the housing market, it is essential that the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) remains available, affordable and financially stable. NAHB called on lawmakers to pass a long-term NFIP reauthorization.
- Building energy codes. NAHB urged Congress to require any code or proposal supported by the Department of Energy to have a payback period of 10 years or less.
- Cluster mailboxes. The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has instituted a de facto mandate requiring mail delivery to cluster mailbox units in new residential developments. NAHB believes any reform effort for the USPS should not be funded by home builders and home owners. NAHB urged House lawmakers to co-sponsor a sense of the House resolution (H. Res. 23) that calls on the USPS to preserve delivery of mail to the home or business.
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) addressed builders before their Hill visits and cited the need to reduce regulatory burdens and taxes to help the residential construction industry.
"I want you to be able to build faster, cheaper and smarter by getting rid of regulations and red tape," said Barrasso. "If we want to grow the economy, we need to lower taxes and get rid of punishing regulations."
The senator also expressed support for two other NAHB priorities: ratification of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement and a long-term reauthorization of NFIP.
View pictures from some of the Capitol Hill meetings below.
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