Call to Action Congress and federal financial regulators need to take steps to ensure that homeownership opportunities remain for subprime borrowers, according to Sheila Bair, chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. in an address before the 2007 Housing Affordability Symposium on Oct. 5–6. Action needs to be taken to ensure that the subprime problem “does not become a drag on the economy,” she said. “The ultimate solution is a national standard that covers all market participants.”
Needed Relief The House Ways and Means Committee on Nov. 1 marked up and approved the Temporary Tax Relief Act of 2007. The primary focus of the bill is to extend short-term relief from the Alternative Minimum Tax for another year. The bill would also extend a number of expiring tax provisions, such as brownfields expensing, New Market Tax Credits, and leasehold improvements. The committee also included in the bill the Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Relief Act of 2007, legislation supported by the NAHB because of its critical importance to resolving the subprime mortgage crisis.
Look Ahead Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody's Economy.com, and Bernard Markstein, NAHB director of forecasting, gave similar views on how the housing market slowdown is shaking out across the country at the NAHB's Fall Construction Forecast Conference. Neither economist predicted that housing's considerable drag on growth will actually pull the national economy into recession. However, states that experienced the most significant run-ups in home sales, prices, and production during the recent boom period will definitely be feeling a major pinch—particularly in terms of home sales and prices.
Helping Hands The HBAs in Southern California have already begun providing aid and services to the victims of the wildfires that recently swept the region, displaced hundreds of thousands of residents, caused more than $1 billion in property damage, and destroyed more than 1,600 homes. Within days of the fires, the Building Industry Association of San Diego County posted a list of rebuilding services and related information available from its membership on its Web site, www.biasandiego.org.
What If ... With the odds growing that New York City, with a population of more than eight million and 578 miles of waterfront, could be hit by a destructive hurricane, the New York City Office of Emergency Management is sponsoring a design competition to enhance the city's ability to provide provisional housing for people who lose their homes. A jury of experts in the fields of architecture, design, urbanism, and government will choose 10 entrants who will each be awarded $10,000 along with technical support to develop their proposals into workable solutions.