"Building the Dream" Event Highlights Homeownership Gaps
Housing affordability is a nationwide issue that is pricing residents out of owning homes and driving up the cost of rent. In fact, almost a third of the nation’s households are cost burdened and pay more than 30% of their income for housing. Leaders across the country are looking for potential solutions to help resolve this crisis in their localities. [caption id="attachment_16700" align="alignleft" width="300"] Rep. Kurt Daudt (right) shared staggering stats regarding Minnesota's rental and housing inventory, as well as the cost to build in the state, with Reid Wilson, national correspondent for The Hill.[/caption] Government officials and community stakeholders came together at NAHB's recent kickoff of its “Building the Dream” series in Minneapolis to highlight how this crisis is being addressed at the local and state level to help bridge the gap for homeownership. As a state ranked 41st in rental inventory and 51st in homeownership inventory (including the District of Columbia), Minnesota understands the struggle of housing affordability. One of its greatest barriers to increasing that inventory, however, is the cost of building a home in Minnesota, especially when compared with other Midwest areas such as Wisconsin, Chicago and Indianapolis. Rep. Kurt Daudt (R-31), minority leader of the Minnesota House of Representatives, noted as an example that recent code changes have added as much $7,000 to the cost of a home. "Around 90% of Minnesotans want to own a home," Daudt added. "And we need to make that as accessible as possible so that everybody can participate in that." [caption id="attachment_16699" align="alignright" width="300"] Rep. Mohamud Noor (right) discusses barriers to homeownership with Steve Clemons, editor at large for The Hill.[/caption] Rep. Mohamud Noor (DFL-60B) agreed that regulations can be a barrier to achieving housing affordability, not only in creating inventory but in providing financial access to homeownership as well. "We haven’t looked into what other things we are creating by putting a lot of regulations that hold people back," Noor noted. "So at least looking from that perspective, we need to start opening more doors." Another key point of discussion across panels was equity and ensuring everyone has access to affordable housing, not only in the rental market but through homeownership as well. "Homeownership is a way that people — particularly people of color, low-income, immigrants — can create real generational wealth," stated Lisa McDonald, founding member and organizer of Minneapolis for Everyone, during the community panel on affordability. "It’s how you build stability in your neighborhoods." Lack of affordability certainly isn’t unique to Minnesota neighborhoods, and the difficulties in overcoming some of the barriers panelists identified are having a lasting impact on the housing marketing across the United States. [caption id="attachment_16698" align="alignleft" width="300"] NAHB Chairman Greg Ugalde discusses national trends in housing affordability with Deborah Myerson, principal of Myerson Planning & Development Consulting.[/caption] "Over the last 15 years, the average age of a first-time buyer increased by five years," stated NAHB Chairman Greg Ugalde. "So instead of being 25-26 years old, we’re up to 30-31. It changes the whole dynamic of the American Dream and the things that we strive for." Ugalde discussed what local governments are doing nationwide to help combat this issue with Deborah Myerson, principal of Myerson Planning & Development Consulting and author of NAHB's How Did They Do It? report. Myerson noted tactics such as investing in infrastructure, land donation and fee waivers as examples of how government officials can help lower the cost of housing, as well as incorporating more diverse forms of housing to help meet the shifting needs of today’s buyers. "Local governments have their responsibility to help make it possible to add to that housing supply, and that starts with a housing plan," Myerson explained. "That’s the first place communities need to start. They need to figure out what their needs are, what the target is, how many do you need and how are you going to get there." [caption id="attachment_16701" align="alignright" width="300"] Jessica Lee from MinnPost moderates a panel of community stakeholders discussing affordability and equity in the Minneapolis metro area. Panelists were (l to r) Margaret Kaplan, president of Housing Justice Center; Cathy Bennett, director of advisory service/product councils at Urban Land Institute Minnesota; Lisa McDonald, founding member and organizer of Minneapolis for Everyone; and Ellen Sahli, president at Family Housing Fund.[/caption] Cathy Bennett, director of advisory service and product councils at Urban Land Institute Minnesota, noted that communities her organization is working with are increasingly eager to have this discussion to ensure community stability and economic competitiveness. "We’ve seen a lot of different cities really taking a leadership role in upping their game with regards to adding more tools to their toolbox, as well as incorporating the support of affordability and new development and modifying their codes around tenant protections for preservation," she noted. Ellen Sahli, president of Family Housing Fund, emphasized that tools, resources and support are essential to addressing housing affordability as the crisis it is. "You can hardly pick up a newspaper without seeing housing as a crisis across this country," she shared. "Another way to think about it is, 'What can we do with the increased attention to come up with real solutions that advance and solve this problem for all of the individuals on the economic spectrum that responds in way that represents who we are as a community?'" NAHB’s Creating Housing for All webpage offers a number of resources to help understand the components involved in housing affordability and how different municipalities have worked to combat this issue. Visit nahb.org/housingforall to learn more. Stay tuned to NAHB’s Election 2020 webpage for more information, including videos and photos, as well as upcoming event details.