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Immeasurable challenges and meaningful opportunities

The National Housing Conference, its members and the housing industry at large has much to reflect on and even celebrate as the year comes to a close and we look forward to starting a new chapter in 2021.

I encourage all of you who are not yet members to join NHC and work with us to advance effective solutions to housing challenges in 2021. As we embark on a new year with a new administration and new Congress, your membership has never been more impactful. I want to extend a special thank you to our existing members and partners, without whom, 2020’s incredible accomplishments would not be possible.

Despite starting the year with an ambitious policy agenda and packed calendar, we quickly pivoted when we recognized the urgent need for centralized housing information at the onset of the pandemic. In April, we launched the COVID-19 Housing Resource Center, which includes over 1,000 unique sources of information from hundreds of websites. It provides an up-to-date central repository for facts that housing stakeholders need now, best practices and answers to hundreds of frequently asked questions. NHC also began hosting a bi-weekly call with major housing industry leaders to coordinate responses to the pandemic. This call has included special guests such as Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Deputy Secretary Brian Montgomery and Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Director Mark Calabria.

And as the pandemic progressed, NHC advocated for bipartisan solutions and relief for struggling homeowners, renters, landlords and small businesses. We pressed for assistance in various media outlets such as The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and CNN, and advocated for our members engaged in the important work of building America’s housing on FOX Business News and MSNBC.

Outside of COVID-19, our work on economic equity and Black homeownership was a major focus in 2020 – and one that we plan to expand in 2021. We transitioned our Black Homeownership Working Group to an industry wide collaborative that is led by a Steering Committee consisting of NHC, National Urban League, NAACP, Urban Institute, Mortgage Bankers Association, National Association of Real Estate Brokers, National Fair Housing Alliance and National Association of REALTORS®, all working in coordination to close the Black homeownership gap. The 12-point plan to create 3 million net new Black homeowners by 2030 that our collective developed this year will serve as a platform for our 2021 advocacy.

In addition to Black homeownership, NHC continues to be actively involved in critical housing issues. We have engaged directly with the leadership of the Federal Reserve Board, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation on Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) modernization and advocated for sensible, impactful, reforms in The New York Times and American Banker. We welcomed Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard to discuss the topic at our October National Advisory Council meeting. In 2021, we will mobilize our CRA Working Group to respond to the Federal Reserve’s Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. We’ve also weighed in on other housing developments, including FHFA’s capital rule, the adverse market refinance fee, HUD’s elimination of the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule and more.

From our Solutions for Housing Communications online convening in May, which was one of the industry’s first virtual conferences following the COVID-19 outbreak, to our recent Solutions for Affordable Housing online convening, NHC brought our annual events to housers all around the country from the safety of their own homes. We also hosted eight webinars throughout the year featuring relevant conversations with industry leaders on a diverse range of topics, including the connection between health and housing, COVID-19 assistance for homeowners, renters and landlords,and the role of state housing finance agencies in addressing affordable housing challenges. These successful events attracted hundreds of attendees and an impressive roster of speakers, including Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), New York Times Reporter Conor Dougherty, OCC Senior Deputy Comptroller for Bank Supervision Policy Grovetta Gardineer, Habitat for Humanity CEO Jonathan Reckford and many more.

As NHC looks to the year ahead and beyond, mentoring the next generation of housing leaders will be a top priority. This year has certainly underscored the ongoing need for strong, creative and vocal leaders in our industry. Our Emerging Leaders in Affordable Housing (ELAH) program offers young professionals and students a special membership designation, as well as exclusive access to professional opportunities and NHC events. This year we hosted an ELAH webinar on advocating for racial equity in housing and community development. We’re looking forward to our next ELAH meeting in January and encourage everyone 35 and under interested in housing to become an ELAH member and let us know what kind of insights and opportunities would be valuable to you in the new year.

I look forward to working with you in 2021. Thank you for a great year.

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