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National Housing Conference reacts to Obama’s focus on housing

Chris Estes, president and CEO of NHC, issued the following statement in response to Tuesday night’s State of the Union address by President Obama:

In last night’s State of the Union, President Obama recognized the essential connections between housing and our country’s future. Without vibrant housing markets around the country, we cannot achieve the growth in incomes and employment we need to emerge fully from the Great Recession. We must ensure that all in America have access to safe, decent and affordable housing that enables households to build wealth, empowers children to succeed in school and allows families to live healthier.

The National Housing Conference applauds President Obama’s call for refinancing home mortgages—it is an economically sound policy improvement that should appeal to policymakers of any party. The principle behind it, that low wealth should not preclude households from becoming responsible homeowners, should guide our approach to reforming our system of mortgage finance to provide long-term fixed-rate mortgages, financing for multifamily affordable housing and access to rental and owned homes for low- and moderate-income families.

Refinancing alone will not solve our housing challenges. President Obama recognized the need to invest in communities, particularly those that saw wealth erased by the housing bust and neighborhoods devastated by waves of foreclosures. We need to build on the solutions developed through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program to help revitalize struggling communities and prevent further damage from foreclosures. The President’s proposal to target resources toward 20 of our “hardest hit towns” is certainly a start, but there are too many communities in need to limit our efforts to a pilot program. NHC looks forward to working with Congress and the President to find ways to help all struggling neighborhoods in America.

The President’s commitment to making homes more energy efficient is an important step forward. Reducing the energy consumed by housing makes good economic sense. It also contributes to affordability, because energy bills often take a substantial bite out of a weekly paycheck. NHC and its members, particularly through the Green Affordable Housing Coalition, are committed to policy changes that support more efficient, greener, healthier single-family and multifamily homes.

NHC welcomes the details that are sure to follow the State of the Union proposals. We will offer our members’ expertise to aid the President and all members of Congress in creating the housing solutions we need to ensure that all in America have a stable, affordable place to call home.

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