The home building industry's proxy on Capitol Hill, the NAHB, has been out with a clarion wake-up call to anyone who'll listen and anyone who plans either to retain or gain office in Congress in the next go-round.
There are three big reasons for the volume and vehemence of the call, but underlying them all is that homeownership and its role as a foundational block of American middle-class society is in question, if not under threat, partly by intent and partly through indifference.
Reason one is that no fewer than four highly disparate and polarized political blocs have found common ground in opposing supportive housing policy.
Reason two, American people also are dramatically unaware that they're in double jeopardy in the vortex of deficit-reduction "Let's Make a Deal" on Capitol Hill right now.
Reason three, and this is the big ouch: Home builders either don't care or won't align around actions they can take to ensure a unified, unequivocal, and powerful message comes across on the issue of continued federal policy in support of homeownership. That's what it looks like, anyway.
Underlining the NAHB's call are three principal learning points that came through in research the NAHB commissioned from Public Opinion Strategies of Alexandria, Va., and Lake Research Partners of Washington, D.C.
? It would be a big mistake to conclude from behaviors, trends, and population patterns playing out in today's distressed real estate environment that Americans' enthusiasm for, passion about, and intention to achieve the American Dream of homeownership have abated;
? American voters, by a mile, support policy that make achieving the American Dream of homeownership more reachable and rewarding; and
? American voters, regardless of political affiliation, say they plan to back candidates who are "pro housing."
"The findings that came out of this research are nothing short of explosive," NAHB president and CEO Jerry Howard says. "This data is so clear, and the focal points on how the vast majority of the American people are willing to vote for housing support are so powerful."
Still, powerful political players have found themselves on the same side with regard to the discontinuation of programs such as the home mortgage interest deduction, the capital and liquidity management structure that enables low-interest rate 30-year mortgages, and below 20 percent down payment programs that have proven to form a solid base of community building in America's neighborhoods for more than half a century.
Libertarians, progressives, thinktankers, and Tea Party deficit hawks have actually struck accord around opposition to some of homeownership's basic building blocks. They agree on what they want to do?end housing support. But they have entirely different visions when it comes to the result of their efforts.
More concerning, the machinations around these issues are occurring as the industry is under siege and fighting for its survival. All anyone seems to be good at doing is competing with one another for new-home buyers, who are in shorter and shorter supply, and what Congress is debating now could lop off another chunk of the current and future universe of home buyers.
So the NAHB is rattling its saber for all it's worth. Howard says, "We need every part of the industry to mobilize and to bring the message of this research to their local media, to business partners, to their local officials, to elected representatives, and to us that they're unified around it."