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Housing Professionals Urge Action

Residential construction pros urged Congress to tame shelter inflation and ease the housing affordability crisis at the NAHB conference.

WASHINGTON – More than 900 business professionals from all areas of residential construction descended on the nation’s capital Wednesday to encourage Congress to alleviate the challenges to building affordable housing and boosting housing production.

“Members of the housing community from across the nation have come to the nation’s capital for the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) 2024 Legislative Conference to deliver a powerful message: ‘The only way to tame shelter inflation (homeownership and rental costs) and to ease the housing affordability crisis is to build more homes and apartments,’” said NAHB Chairman Carl Harris, a custom home builder from Wichita, Kansas.

There is currently a nationwide shortage of 1.5 million housing units. NAHB recently released a 10-point plan to help erase this shortfall and improve the business climate so that builders can increase the nation’s housing supply. The NABH said eliminating burdensome regulations, easing permitting roadblocks and overturning inefficient zoning rules are just a few elements of the plan that will move the ball forward.

In more than 250 individual meetings with their representatives and senators, housing advocates urged lawmakers to act on three key issues outlined in NAHB’s housing plan – adopt reasonable and cost-effective building codes, ease severe shortages of distribution transformers and promote careers in the skilled trades – to help builders make homeownership and renting more affordable:

Building codes. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture passed a mandate that will require new single-family and multifamily construction financed through both agencies to be built to the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) or ASHRAE 90.1-2019. The NAHB said the code will significantly raise housing costs – particularly in the price-sensitive entry-level market for starter homes and affordable rental properties – and limit access to mortgage financing while providing little benefit to new home buyers and renters. The NAHB wants the policy to be reversed.

Transformers. A shortage of distribution transformers is delaying housing projects across the nation and the cost of transformers has soared by more than 70% since the start of the pandemic. Wait times for distribution transformers often can take from 12 to 24 months. The NAHB wants Congress to fix the supply chain disruptions and provide funding to boost the domestic manufacturing capacity.

Workforce development funding. A severe shortage of labor in the construction industry is worsening the housing affordability crisis through higher home building costs and construction delays. In any given month, there is a shortage of roughly 400,000 construction workers, and home builders will need to add 2.2 million new workers over the next three years just to keep up with demand. The NAHB wants Congress to fully fund Job Corps, which provides skilled labor for the housing industry and make meaningful investments to encourage students to pursue skilled trades.

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