By Bob Nielsen
Chairman of the Board, NAHB
In the spirit of the back-to-school season with its inevitable request to recount the summer’s activities, I thought I would update you on the NAHB’s most recent actions on behalf of housing and the home building industry.
But unlike a traditional end-of-summer essay, this report doesn’t recount days at the beach and visits to the relatives. It’s the story of an industry fighting for its life against formidable odds.
Just the short list of the challenges we face includes threats to the mortgage interest deduction and other housing-related tax measures, lack of AD&C financing, foreclosures, appraisals, threats to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and proposed qualified residential mortgage standards. I want you to know, just for the record, that we are individually addressing every one of these issues and many more as we work to protect members’ interests and serve their needs.
We are also working very hard to elevate housing on the national agenda, and that’s the effort that I want to tell you about today.
Early this year, the NAHB Board of Directors determined that the only way to defend against the challenges we face is by elevating housing in the political dialogue and making it a key issue in the presidential elections.
As part of that broad effort, we commissioned a public opinion survey by noted pollsters Public Opinion Strategies of Alexandria, Va., and Lake Research Partners of Washington, D.C. It revealed a disturbing disconnect between what voters want regarding housing and the actions of policymakers in Washington. Voters value homeownership and believe strongly that government should support it. More than half of those surveyed said they would be less likely to support a candidate for Congress who wanted to eliminate the home mortgage interest deduction.
In recent months, we have been very busy taking that message to the media, to elected officials on Capitol Hill, to regulators, to the public, and to our members. We have left no stone unturned in demonstrating housing’s importance and are working to form coalitions with other groups that share our concerns and interests.
As you know, the NAHB is officially non-partisan. We do not endorse candidates for public office. We are, however, reaching out to all declared presidential candidates in an effort to discuss important housing issues and our members’ priorities and ensure that they understand the housing market’s role in creating jobs.
Likewise, we have taken our message beyond Capitol Hill to marshal support for housing. Our leadership and staff have met with and provided briefings for both the Democratic Governors Association and the Republican Governors Association and both parties’ Lieutenant Governors Associations. We have also met with and provided briefings for the National Governors Association and both parties’ Legislative Campaign Committees.
Our staff also briefed more than 100 housing officials from across the country at the National Association of Counties annual meeting in July.
And we were very proud that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker made a commitment to meet with our leadership and address the NAHB Board of Directors at the Fall Board Meeting in Milwaukee.
Back in January, the NAHB Board of Directors told us to be aggressive in our efforts to elevate housing on the national agenda, and that’s exactly what we have been doing.
Of course, it’s early, and there’s a long road ahead of us. But I am very proud of our accomplishments to date, and I’m encouraged about the future.