Call for Reform In mid-April, the NAHB called on Congress to enact legislation that would reform and revitalize the FHA's single-family mortgage insurance programs. Testifying before the House Financial Services Committee's Housing and Community Opportunity Subcommittee, Bill Killmer, the NAHB's group vice president for advocacy, said that statutory and regulatory constraints have limited the FHA's ability to respond to the needs of borrowers, resulting in many home buyers ending up with inappropriate mortgages. “Had the FHA been in a better position to respond to changing market forces in the past few years, the subprime situation might not be as severe as it is today,” Killmer told the committee. If granted the proper authority by Congress, Killmer said, the FHA's single-family mortgage insurance programs could insure fixed-rate, adjustable-rate, and hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage loans to borrowers with limited cash reserves and slightly tarnished credit. “And this could be done on far better terms than the subprime loans that are making adverse headlines daily,” he added.

Trail-blazers The famous—but deteriorating—RCA Building remade into trendy loft apartments, an artists' colony for seniors, and Elvis Presley's childhood apartment saved as part of the rehabilitation of an old public housing development were among this year's winners of the Pillars of the Industry Awards, bestowed by the NAHB. The awards honor excellence in apartment and condo design, development, marketing, and management and are considered the most prestigious national awards in the multifamily housing industry. The NAHB recognized the winners for excellence and superior leadership in more than 30 categories as part of its annual conference for apartment and condo developers. “These award-winning projects are proof positive that multifamily housing in this country just keeps getting better and better,” says Leonard Wood, managing partner of Atlanta-based Wood Partners and chairman of the NAHB's Multifamily Leadership Board. “We saw tremendous innovation across so many categories—from luxury condos to student housing—but what is most impressive is what multifamily builders are doing to serve the needs of families with low and moderate incomes, including military personnel.” Wood notes that this year's awards competition had the highest number of entries ever in the affordable-housing categories, including four large-scale redevelopments of whole neighborhoods into mixed-income and mixed-use communities.

Tech Help As partners in the newly created Home Technology Alliance, the NAHB and the Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association (CEDIA) will start offering new home-technology related tools as a way to keep builders current on home automation practices and trends. The alliance was designed to offer education and information to home builders on options for integrating home automation in new-home planning and construction as well as remodeling and existing structures.