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Photos: Sirichai

It’s no secret that creating jobs is the top issue in the 2012 election season. What is disconcerting is that on the presidential and congressional campaign trail, little is being said about the need to revive housing so that it can serve as an engine of job growth and help unleash the economic potential of our great nation.

If politicians looked to the voters, they would realize that the American electorate places a high priority on owning their own home and are looking to their elected leaders to support government policies that encourage homeownership.

Nearly six in 10 voters say that stabilizing and restoring the nation’s housing market is a high priority for the federal government, according to a recent nationwide survey of likely 2012 voters conducted on behalf of the NAHB by the Republican and Democratic polling firms of Public Opinion Strategies and Lake Research Partners.

More tellingly, the majority of voters believe that neither party is doing a good job in this area. In fact, 67 percent of Independents and 69 percent who are undecided on their vote for Congress agree with this sentiment.

Even more troubling, some policymakers are actually seeking to reduce the nation’s long-standing federal commitment to homeownership by proposing to eliminate or reduce the mortgage interest deduction, establish a minimum 20 percent down payment on home loans, and end the federal backing for our nation’s housing finance system. Such policies would have serious economic consequences by exacerbating the current housing downturn, furthering job losses, and shutting millions of middle-class families out of homeownership.

Perhaps this is why three out of four voters—including both homeowners and renters—believe the federal government should continue to provide tax incentives that promote homeownership, and two-thirds agree that the federal government should play a role in ensuring that 30-year home loans remain readily available and affordable, according to the housing survey. Moreover, 68 percent would be less likely to vote for a congressional candidate who proposed to abolish the mortgage interest deduction, a figure that was virtually identical across all party lines.

It’s time for Washington leaders to help home builders do their part to rebuild the economy by ending the severe credit crunch that is preventing qualified home buyers from obtaining mortgages and builders from accessing production loans for viable projects. Building 100 single-family homes creates more than 300 full-time jobs and adds $8.9 million to local, state, and federal tax coffers that are used to fund local schools, police, and firefighters in communities across the nation.

Not only do voters believe that a healthy housing market creates jobs and a stronger economy, they also see homeownership as fundamental to the American dream.

The NAHB will work diligently in 2012 to ensure that housing and homeownership remain prominent in the political dialogue and that politicians are acutely aware of the depth and breadth of housing’s many contributions to American society. In this critical election year, the American people demand and deserve no less.