Flood Zone Recently, the nation's home builders called on Congress to reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) for five years and for FEMA to address repetitive loss properties to ensure the long-term viability of the program.

Testifying on behalf of the NAHB, Steve Feldmann of the Fischer Group, a home builder in Kentucky, said, “The home building industry depends on a strong national flood insurance program that is annually predictable, universally available, and fiscally viable.”

Unfortunately, the program is threatened by a small percentage of properties that have suffered multiple, costly flood damage. These properties, which make up only 1 percent of the current 4.4 million policyholders, cost the NFIP approximately $200 million annually and account for 25 percent to 30 percent of the claims paid by the program.

The NAHB has been a proponent of House-passed reauthorization legislation H.R. 253, the “Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2003,” and supports the provision in the bill ensuring that all properties remain eligible for flood insurance.

Zero Down Testifying before Congress, the NAHB expressed support for H.R. 3755, the “Zero Downpayment Act of 2004,” legislation that would authorize the FHA to insure no–down-payment mortgages for single-family, first-time home buyers.

“The bill addresses one of the greatest obstacles preventing many families from becoming homeowners—the funds necessary for a down payment and closing costs. The legislation will help working families achieve the American dream of owning a home,” stated Bobby Rayburn, president of the NAHB.

Monthly mortgage payments would be slightly higher, and home buyer counseling would be mandatory for all who participate in the program.

To enhance the legislation and assure that it reaches as many households as possible, Rayburn urged lawmakers to amend the bill to include condominium and cooperative loans.

HUD estimates that 140,000 families would be able to take advantage of this new opportunity if the legislation is enacted.

Water Wars With the recent release of the General Accounting Office's (GAO) report “Waters and Wetlands,” the NAHB issued the following statement:

“The EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers have shirked their responsibilities on wetlands regulations for far too long.

“We have known for years that different Corps districts take divergent approaches in making jurisdictional decisions that are of vital importance to home builders, developers, and property owners, and the GAO report accurately documents these many inconsistencies and the failure of both agencies to provide written guidance to interested parties.

“The writing is on the wall. The EPA and the Corps can no longer hide behind inconsistent verbal guidance and allow the present unpredictable regulatory system to continue. They need to act quickly to provide accurate and fair guidance on how Corps field staff should decide what falls under their jurisdiction and what does not, just as they should have done years ago.”