A recent meeting of the housing leaders from Group of Seven (G7) countries included recommendations and principles regarding housing affordability, which included language to address housing costs using private sector investment aimed at lower- and middle-income households.
NAHB and the International Housing Association (IHA) worked to include principles for housing affordability in the agenda, which focused mainly on community resilience and green building.
Housing ministers from the G7 countries met in Japan in July to discuss a common framework and principles for urban development and rural housing. The United States was represented by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge.
With the direction of two key Japanese industry associations — the Japanese Federation of Housing Organizations (JUDANREN) and the Japan International Association for the Industry of Building and Housing (JIBH) — NAHB and IHA pressed their countries’ housing leaders to include statements on housing affordability as home prices are out of reach for so many residents of all the G7 countries.
Writing for the United States, NAHB CEO Jim Tobin said, “Safe, decent, affordable housing provides fundamental benefits that are essential to the well-being of families, communities, and the nation. Yet owning or renting a suitable home is increasingly out of financial reach for many U.S. households.”
Kevin Lee, CEO of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association, and Lars Jacob Hiim, CEO of the Norwegian Home Builders’ Association, both noted the role local zoning rules and NIMBYism play in keeping housing supplies low.
The G7 countries agreed to include housing affordability as a key principle when discussing urban development. The official language in the meeting’s communique read, in part: “We stress that issues surrounding housing affordability, namely the availability of affordable and adequate quality housing, need to be addressed through targeted investments from all levels of government, particularly through the provision of public and private housing for lower and middle income households. We recognise that the use of vacant housing should also be encouraged, according to national and local circumstances.”
The statement is a huge achievement for NAHB and IHA. As world leaders are looking at their countries’ development plans, most international cooperation is focused on energy efficiency and risks related to climate change. But all the housing leaders from G7 countries noted that housing affordability is at crisis levels and must be considered in housing plans.
The G7 is an intergovernmental political forum comprising Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, with the European Union (EU) participating as a “non-enumerated member.”