With the coronavirus hitting all sectors of the economy, NAHB is working diligently to mitigate its effects on the residential construction sector. Congress has passed an emergency response coronavirus bill that includes tax credits to help businesses and self-employed individuals to cover some of the costs of mandatory sick leave included in the legislation. More details on the bill can be found here.
Earlier this week, NAHB participated in a conference call with White House officials to discuss strategies to provide needed aid and stimulus to the housing sector in the wake of the coronavirus threat that is wreaking short-term havoc on the national economy.
I am pleased to report that less than 48 hours later President Trump put our recommendation to provide mortgage relief to home owners into effect when he announced that HUD is suspending foreclosures and evictions for mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration through the end of April.
Below is a list of other topics we discussed with the White House to keep the housing sector running with as little disruption as possible during this outbreak:
- Urge Congress to temporarily eliminate the payroll tax to provide additional cash reserves to businesses and individuals.
- Work with HUD and USDA to ensure that federal rental assistance programs are properly funded.
- Ensure uninterrupted processing of applications for federal mortgage insurance and loan guarantee programs assistance.
- Provide emergency rental assistance to help those unable to pay their rent due to lost income from COVID-19.
- Ensure there are no delays to Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) projects that are in the pipeline.
- Establish a minimum 4% LIHTC rate for acquisition and bond-financed projects, which would provide more certainty and flexibility in financing these properties.
- Fix Davis-Bacon split wage determinations for FHA-insured multifamily mortgages to provide certainty to lenders and developers.
- Provide emergency HOME and CDBG funding to stimulate housing construction and public works spending on state and local projects.
- Let Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac purchase AD&C loans from community banks to help maintain the flow of credit for home building.
- Provide a one-year extension to the GSE Qualified Mortgage patch to prevent undue disruptions to the mortgage industry.
- Allow investors to use the FHA203(k) program as a source of financing for renovation activities.
- Restore new construction approvals in the HUD condo rule to boost the supply of affordable housing.
- Provide relief for federal business license renewals, training and certification classes affected by the outbreak.
- Ensure the federal government issues permits and other approvals promptly.
- Ease the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan requirements and allow builders to use these loans for construction of spec homes.
- Ensure any aid to targeted to industries must be equally available to trade associations of any size that have been financially harmed by the coronavirus pandemic.
- Consider options to keep home construction active amid government guidelines for work activities.
This is not an inclusive list. Our message to the White House is simple, yet urgent: As housing goes, so goes the economy. We are just at the beginning stages of this process. We'll reevaluate as the situation progresses and will be making more policy asks as warranted.
Meanwhile, builders in the near-term should be prepared for approval and other business delays, check on their subs and workforce, and watch their cash reserves. Once mitigation efforts end to check the spread of the coronavirus, housing should be set for a rebound given low mortgage rates.
NAHB continues to work tirelessly and do all we can at the local, state and federal levels to assure that the housing sector continues to remain healthy during this difficult time.
As always, I will keep you informed of any significant updates as they arise.
You can visit NAHB's Coronavirus Preparedness and Response section on nahb.org to keep current on this rapidly changing situation.