A broad coalition of housing advocates, including representatives from the National Association of REALTORS®, National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), Habitat for Humanity, Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP) and the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), joined lawmakers at a press conference on Wed., Oct. 20 to lobby for housing provisions currently being debated by Congress with large cuts likely for the so-called “Build Back Better” bill.
Over $300 billion was originally proposed for various housing initiatives, with programs and funds for rental and down payment assistance, affordable housing, public housing and a variety of other initiatives. NAR CEO Bob Goldberg and the other housing stakeholders argued that of all the priorities in the bill, housing should remain at the top of the list.
“Each time a house is bought or sold, it injects roughly about $94,000 into the community’s economy,” Goldberg said in a statement. “Making sure everyone has a place to call home isn’t just the foundation of our economy. It’s the fabric of our communities, our families and each of our lives. Today, lawmakers here in Washington have a tremendous opportunity to make lasting, meaningful changes that will increase access to safe and affordable housing throughout the U.S.”
Real estate contributed almost 20% of the national GDP, or $3.83 trillion in 2020 according to Goldberg. The country is facing a shortage of 6 million homes at a time of unprecedented demand, he added.
This housing crunch is especially hurting extremely low-income people and families of color, according to the advocates, with NAHREP President Sara Rodriguez pointing to data that shows homeownership can increase civic participation as well as improve health and education outcomes.
“Homeownership is the single most powerful strategy for closing the racial and ethnic wealth gap. That is why we are here today,” she said at the press conference.
Rodriguez added that the current discussions are a “crossroads” for the country, with other advocates joining in calling the current proposal a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to address long-term and long-running issues with affordable housing and equity.
Though there remains a relatively broad consensus that investment in housing will be necessary, broad opposition from Republicans and disagreement among Democrats has left the fate of the “Build Back Better” plan unclear. Cuts remain likely, and passage of any form of the bill is far from certain, with NLIHC Vice President of Public Policy Sarah Saadian saying Congress and the Biden administration were considering “gutting” housing provisions in the bill.
“Taking resources away that could be housing people with the greatest needs is unacceptable. We’re in the midst of an affordable housing and homelessness crisis,” she said. “The housing investments in the Build Back Better Act directly address the underlying causes of this crisis.”
As negotiations continue in Washington, the housing stakeholders promised to continue to make their voices heard.
“We look forward to supporting these critical conversations way we can in the coming days and weeks ahead,” Goldberg said.
Jesse Williams is RISMedia’s associate online editor. Email him your real estate news ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.