By BUILDER Magazine Staff. Drain Plugged

Like many other myths that "everybody knows," the myth that building a low-income apartment housing community drains resources from a metropolitan area just doesn't hold up to scrutiny, says the NAHB. The NAHB's Economics Group has unveiled a predictive model that shows the positive economic impact of building 100 apartment homes. Economic benefits continue, at about two-thirds of the initial level, every year of construction.

100 Low-Income Apartments Add:

*$6 million in local income;

*$842,000 in taxes and other revenues for local governments;

*112 local jobs.

The research's most surprising aspect is that the economic benefit from developing low-income housing tax credit apartments (for residents whose incomes are below 60 percent of the area median income) is only slightly lower than the benefits generated by building a market-rate community.

Health Help

The General Accounting Office report, "Private Health Insurance: Number and Market Share of Carriers in the Small Group Health Insurance Market," shows that the five largest insurance carriers combined have 75 percent or more of the market share in 19 of 34 states supplying information and more than 90 percent in seven of those states.

The NAHB says the report highlights the need to enact association health plan legislation.

Closing the Gap

Perhaps goaded by May's release of the Millennial Housing Commission's report, President Bush announced in mid-June the "Renewing the Dream" initiative. The tax credit program's goal is to expand homeownership, particularly among minority households (by 5.5 million over 10 years).

Modeled after the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, it gives investors up to a 50 percent credit of the cost of building a new home or rehabilitating an existing one.

Bush said, "Over the next five years, this will provide developers nearly $2.4 billion in tax credits for building affordable single-family housing in distressed areas. These credits will make 200,000 new homes available over its first five years to low-income purchasers."

The NAHB expressed support: "Closing the gap between those who can afford homeownership and those who can't is good for the housing market, the economy, and America. It creates new jobs, strengthens families and communities, and spurs economic growth ... ."

The Millennial Housing Commission's report found that 25 percent of households, nearly 28 million American families, spend more than 30 percent of income for housing. It called for revitalizing and restructuring the FHA within HUD, enacting a new homeownership tax credit, and establishing a new, mixed-income, rental production program.

100 Single-Family Homes Add:

*$11.6 million in new income to local businesses and workers in the first year of construction, and $2.8 million every year thereafter;

*250 jobs in the local community during the first year of construction, and 65 jobs every year thereafter;

*$1.4 million in additional local taxes and fees in the first year of construction and nearly $500,000 every year thereafter, for a total of $5.9 million over 10 years.

Leisure Life?

After 33 years in the NAHB's public affairs department as an NAHB spokesperson and trainer, Betty Christy retired. Future plans include launching a consulting business and riding her new lawn tractor, her NAHB retirement gift of choice (no kidding).