Barry Rutenberg

Chairman of the Board, NAHB

Washington, D.C.
Barry Rutenberg Chairman of the Board, NAHB Washington, D.C.

As the NAHB’s chairman, the question I hear most often from members is, “What does the NAHB do for me?” I think most would agree that it’s relatively easy to keep up with events at your local HBA where you interact with other members almost every day. It’s harder to carve time out of a busy workday to read an e-newsletter or an update at NAHB.org.

Moreover, the breadth and volume of the NAHB’s work on behalf of members make it difficult to stay up-to-date with all that we do.

So my answer always starts the same way. The NAHB does a lot, ranging from actions that affect a single tiny component in a new home to those that can help shape the nation’s housing policy. Some of our best accomplishments are regulations you never see.

Today, in the wake of the housing market crisis, our industry faces the very real threat that homeownership could cease to be a national priority. We are working hard to keep housing a national priority.

More than a year ago, the NAHB implemented a comprehensive strategy to demonstrate to elected officials and other policymakers that housing must remain a national priority. A key element of that strategy involves confronting major issues affecting our business environment, especially the nation’s dysfunctional housing finance system.

To this end, we set out a comprehensive framework for reform earlier this year. We were also instrumental in getting legislation introduced in the House and the Senate to increase the availability of AD&C credit. And we are working hard to resolve the serious and complex issue of appraisals that don’t reflect the value of new homes, apartments, and land.

At any given time, our staff experts in Washington, D.C., are also actively working on as many as 100 different legislative and regulatory issues that affect members’ businesses. Everything from building codes to environmental regulations, housing finance, and government housing programs comes under our microscope, and we act aggressively to protect members’ interests.

We testify at hearings, we knock on doors on Capitol Hill and at the regulatory agencies. We work with members of Congress to get legislation introduced and to amend harmful legislation. We meet frequently with regulators, participate diligently in the code-making process, and work to protect members’ interests in the courts.

In short, we’re highly engaged and outspoken, and we take our advocacy efforts to the highest offices and officials in the land. Moreover, not a day goes by that our message is not carried in the national media or in local newspapers across the country.

Equally important, we’re taking our message that homeownership must be a national priority to the policymakers and party candidates who will play a key role in determining future housing policy.

Rallying Cry Earlier this year the NAHB hosted a bipartisan rally in Columbia, S.C., as part of an ongoing effort to demonstrate the importance of homeownership to families and to the economy.
Courtesy National Association of Home Builders Rallying Cry Earlier this year the NAHB hosted a bipartisan rally in Columbia, S.C., as part of an ongoing effort to demonstrate the importance of homeownership to families and to the economy.

As the presidential campaign kicks into high gear, we are in regular contact with both major party election teams. (Remember, NAHB policy prohibits endorsing any candidate for any office.) Our objective is to elevate housing on the national agenda and to make homeownership a key element in the presidential debate over restoring the economy. It’s clear that the economy will not recover fully until the housing sector recovers. Moreover, we know from nationwide housing polls commissioned by the NAHB in early 2011 and January 2012 that voters strongly value homeownership and believe the government should support it. The majority would be less likely to vote for a candidate who favored eliminating or diminishing the mortgage interest deduction.

Since the beginning of the year, we have been very busy taking that message to lawmakers on Capitol Hill, to regulators, and to the public. We have met with Democratic and Republican leaders on Capitol Hill and in the states; testified before Congress on the need to retain housing tax incentives as part of any tax reform effort; and formed coalitions with groups that share our beliefs. And in cooperation with state and local HBAs, we are taking our message directly to voters in key swing states through a series of eight public rallies in support of homeownership.

To further ensure that policymakers focus on housing, the senior officer team will represent the NAHB at the Republican and Democratic national conventions.

Housing is important to every American regardless of their party affiliation. It’s time for the candidates and members of Congress to provide details about their plans to repair the housing market and harness its strength to spur new jobs and growth. It is equally important that they make a commitment to keep homeownership a top national priority. We’re working hard to make those things happen.

I am proud to be part of this team, and I hope you are too.

Reminder: September is National Associate Appreciation Month. Be sure to let our associate members know how much you appreciate their loyalty and commitment.