Falling Short In December, the NAHB and Freddie Mac sponsored a daylong symposium on workforce housing. Industry leaders, community advocates, senior government officials, and other professionals discussed how to combat the growing shortage of affordably priced housing for teachers, nurses, firefighters, and other workers in the communities they serve.

In conjunction with the conference, the sponsors commissioned a telephone survey that found widespread concern about the dearth of affordable housing, particularly among low-income households, renters, minorities, and those living in Western markets with high housing costs. Nine out of 10 households surveyed felt that workers should be able to live in the communities in which they work, and 50 percent said companies should provide stipends and other economic assistance to help employees find such housing.

Another NAHB study found that public servants face an uphill battle in securing affordable housing in the country's top 25 metropolitan markets. For example, police officers can afford to live in only 25 percent of Miami neighborhoods.

Fair Play The NAHB is extolling a new federal regulation that urges that the habitat of threatened and endangered species be preserved. The rule, published by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and established under the Endangered Species Act, encourages property owners to identify and preserve essential habitat as part of the land development process. It does so by providing regulatory assurances to builders and developers who establish habitat conservation plans (HCPs) for species conservation.

The rule strikes a fair balance between protecting endangered species and allowing the building of ample and affordable housing. After an HCP is approved, the property owner can secure permits to build on the land, and the federal government can't impose additional conservation and mitigation measures, except in limited circumstances.

Model Market The NAHB's Remodeling Marketing Index (RMI) posted a strong third quarter in 2004, thanks to low interest rates and solid consumer confidence. December's third-quarter results moved one point ahead of 2004's seasonally adjusted second quarter.

The RMI, developed from a quarterly national survey of 500 remodeling professionals, showed an increase in major home additions and alterations, moving from about 47 in the second quarter to just over 49 in the third, and in maintenance and repairs, jumping from 51.8 to 54.6.

“With ongoing favorable interest rates, rising employment and household incomes, and high home-price appreciation rates, we expect the remodeling market to remain on a strong growth path,” says NAHB chief economist Dave Seiders.

Blue Ribbon Sales + Marketing Ideas magazine has been recognized for its new look. The NAHB publication earned an Ozzie award from Folio magazine in the “Best Redesign” category. The bimonthly magazine, a service of the NAHB's National Sales and Marketing Council, offers research, marketing, and merchandising and sales management techniques to building industry professionals. Ozzie awards honor excellence in magazine design. The annual competition is open to consumer, business-to-business, and nonprofit periodicals.