Forms of communication that were closer to the realm of fantasy than reality less than a generation ago now dominate our business, professional, and personal lives. With email, text messaging, storing files in the “cloud,” and voice mails that are delivered via email, people are better connected than ever before.
But nothing is more effective than talking with someone in person. Even instantaneous electronic communications can’t take the place of shaking someone’s hand, looking him in the eye, and having a one-on-one conversation.
I think that’s especially true for members of Congress. There’s an old saying in Washington, D.C., that when the grassroots speak, Congress listens. So when constituents make the effort to meet with their representatives and senators, they will listen closely.
That’s why I’m inviting every NAHB member—builders and associates alike—to participate in NAHB’s annual Legislative Conference on Wednesday, June 5, in Washington, D.C. Congress will be taking up a number of items in the near future that are critical to our association, and the legislative conference provides a perfect opportunity to meet face-to-face with our elected leaders and tell them what’s important to home builders.
The conference starts with an early morning briefing on the issues. Then we will board buses for Capitol Hill, where we will meet with members of Congress to discuss the critical topics that most concern us and the industry.
The short list of priority items includes: serious threats to the mortgage interest deduction and the Low Income Housing Tax Credit as Congress tackles tax reform; restructuring Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; immigration reform; and AD&C financing for new construction.
We will urge our elected representatives to co-sponsor and move forward legislation to free up AD&C financing. The Home Construction Lending Regulatory Improvement Act was introduced in March by Reps. Gary Miller (R-Calif.) and Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.), and we are hopeful that it will help restore the flow of credit to housing. The bipartisan legislation—identical to a measure that Miller championed in the previous Congress—would remove barriers to lending for new-home construction while preserving regulators’ ability to assure the safety and soundness of the financial institutions they supervise. The day will end with a debriefing and a networking reception.
The next day marks the beginning of the spring Board of Directors meeting. Even if you’re not a director, I encourage you to stay in D.C. for the meeting as all members are welcome to participate.
As an organization, the NAHB draws its strength directly from its members. The grassroots set our policies, direct the actions of the leadership, and chart our course for the future. Because members join at the local level, growing our membership is a largely grassroots function. As our industry recovers from the Great Recession, I ask all members to actively recruit new members and to strengthen our grassroots base.
It’s no secret that NAHB membership dropped considerably in recent years, but membership recruitment and retention are on the upswing. I’m optimistic that this positive trend will continue through the efforts of involved members.
As the housing recovery continues, our industry will encounter new and more difficult challenges. It is crucial for the NAHB to have a vibrant, involved, and growing membership if we are to deal effectively with these challenges. It’s never been more important for the home building industry to speak with one voice.
Learn more about markets featured in this article: Washington, DC.