By BUILDER Magazine Staff Though often hampered by costly class action lawsuits for alleged product defects and rapidly increasing entitlement restrictions throughout the nation, multifamily housing builders, managers, and owners have seen their stock values dramatically increase over the past three years, according to a new NAHB study.

The study's findings received the strong support of the nation's home builders and are being released as Congress considers the Bush administration's "Renewing the Dream" initiative, an innovative homeownership tax credit program introduced in the administration's fiscal 2003 budget as a means of increasing the supply of affordable homes for sale.

The budget request represents an increase of $2.1 billion over HUD's initial fiscal 2002 budget. The proposal includes $200 million for the proposed American Dream Downpayment Fund, intended to help an estimated 40,000 low-income families a year become first-time homeowners. The administration also is proposing a $1.7 billion tax credit for rehabilitation or new construction of an estimated 100,000 homes for purchase by low-income households over a five-year period and $35 million from a separate housing counseling assistance program for low-income families.

The budget inclusions come as good news to the multifamily industry, which appears to be on a roll. The 29 indexed stocks included in the NAHB study collectively rose 25.1 percent between December 1998 and December 2001 while the market fell 6.6 percent, as measured by the S and P 500 index (including dividends).

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