America is not a one-size-fits-all nation, and its inhabitants greatly value the freedom to make personal choices in just about every aspect of their lives, including housing.
Fortunately, most housing markets offer a variety of choices, including both rental and home-ownership options. That’s good, because having a diverse housing supply contributes greatly to a community’s economic and social strength.
For many people, the housing of choice is a single-family detached home in the suburbs, complete with a picket fence and a golden retriever. Others may opt for the convenience of condos or co-ops, which are available in a wide variety of styles, generally in a higher density townhouse, apartment, or high-rise configuration.
Despite the popularity of home ownership, many people prefer to rent. Apartments and other rental housing provide people with mobility and a great deal of convenience. Most important, they do not require the financial commitment associated with home ownership.
For that reason, apartments and other rental housing appeal to a range of households with varying resources. Among them are households with limited financial resources, families that aren’t yet ready for home ownership, people who are downsizing from home ownership, and those who have decided that home ownership isn’t for them.
No matter what configuration it takes or the demographics of the residents, multifamily housing contributes greatly to the national economy. For example, construction of 100 average rental apartments generates 113 jobs, $6.1 million in wages and salaries, and $4.2 million in tax revenue for federal, state, and local governments.
Just as multifamily housing is essential to the nation’s markets, multifamily builders are an important component of NAHB membership. There have been some positive developments on the legislative front poised to benefit these builders.
One item is the recent enactment of the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act of 2016. This legislation includes several reforms to increase access to affordable rental housing and provide assistance to low-income renters. Among other measures, the bill streamlines HUD inspection requirements and the Rural Housing Service Loan Program, reduces FHA regulations on existing condo projects, and extends contract terms for project-based vouchers.
Another positive move: The Senate in July introduced the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act, which would expand the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit by 50% to help spur the production of affordable housing. The act would help create or preserve about 1.3 million affordable homes over a 10-year period—400,000 more units than is possible under the current program.
I want to thank our builder members for collectively housing millions of Americans. Together, you give consumers choice and help provide homes suited to their needs. Let’s continue to work to keep all elements of our industry heading in the right direction.